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FROM THE LIBRARY OF 
REV. LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, D. D. 

BEQUEATHED BY HIM TO 

THE LIBRARY OF 

PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 



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THE LIFE AND LETTERS 




ELIZABETH PRENTISS 






AUTHOR OF 

Sl^EPPIXG HEAVENWARD 



NEW YORK 
ANSON D. F. RANDOLPH & COMPANY 

38 West Twentv-tuikd Stkekt 



COPYRIGHT, 

Bv George L. Prentiss 
1882. 



nnwAun o. jknkins, 

Printer and Siereoiy/'er, 

20 North William Street, New York. 



This memoir was undertaken at the request of many of Mrs 
Prentiss' old and most trusted friends, who felt that the story 
of her life should be given to the public. Much of it is in the 
nature of an autobiography. Her letters, which with extracts 
from her journals form the larger portion of its contents, begin 
when she was in her twentieth year, and continue almost to 
her last hour. They are full of details respecting herself, her 
home, her friends, and the books she wrote. A simple narra- 
tive, inter- perscd with personal reminiscences, and varied by a 
sketch of her father, and passing notices of others, who exerted 
a moulding influence upon her character, completes the story 
A picture is thus presented of the life she lived and its chang- 
ing scenes, both on the natural and the spiritual side. While 
the work may fail to interest some readers, the hope is cher- 
ished that, like Stepping Heavenward, it will be welcomed 
into Christian homes and prove a blessing to many hearts ; 
thus realising the desire expressed in one of her last letters : 
Much of my experience of life has cost me a great price and I wish 

to use it for strengthening and comforting other souls. ^ 

G. L. P» 

Kauinfels Septeynber ii, 18S2. 

3 



CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER I. 

THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 

1818-1839. 

I. 

Birth-place and Ancestry. The Payson Family. Seth Payson. Edward 
Payson. His Mother. A Sketch of his Life and Character. The 
Fervor of his Piety. Despondent Moods, and their Causes. His 
bright, natural Traits. How he prayed and preached. Conversa- 
tional Gift. Love to Christ. Triumphant Death I 

IL 

Birth and Childhood of Elizabeth Payson. Early Traits. Devotion to 
her Father. His Influence upon her. Letters to her Sister. Re- 
moval to New York. Reminiscences of the Payson Family 9 

in. 

Recollections of Elizabeth's Girlhood by an early Friend and School- 
mate. Her own Picture of herself before her Father's Death. 
Favorite Resorts. Why God permits so much Suffering. Literary 
Tastes. Letters. "What are Little Babies For .^ " Opens a School. 
Religious Interest ' ^ 

IV. 

The dominant Type of Religious Life and Thought in New England 
in the First Half of this Century. Literary Influences. Letter of 
Cyrus Hamlin. A strange Coincidence 26 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER II. 

THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 

1 840-1 841. 

I. 

A memorable Experience. Letters to her Cousin. Goes to Richmond 
as a Teacher. Mr. Persico's School. Letters 3c 

IL 

Her Character as a Teacher. Letters. Incidents of School Life. Re- 
ligious Struggles, Aims, and Hope. Oppressive Heat and Weari- 
ness ^2 

III. 

Extracts from her Richmond Journal ^q 

CHAPTER HI. 

PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 

1841-1845. 

I. 

At Home Again. Marriage of her Sister. Ill-health. Letters. Spirit- 
ual Aspiration and Conflict. Perfectionism. " Very, Very Happy." 
Work for Christ what makes Life attractive. Passages from her 
Journal. A Point of Difficulty ^^ 

II. 

Returns to Richmond. Trials There. Letters. Illness. School Ex- 
periences. "Tothe Yeari843." Glimpses of her daily Life. Why 
her Scholars love her So. Homesick. A Black Wedding. What 
a Wife should be. " A Presentiment." Notes from her Diary. 



73 



III. 



Her Views of Love and Courtship. Visit of her Sister and Child. Let- 
ters. Sickness and Death of Friends. Ill-health. Undergoes a 
surgical Operation. Her Fortitude. Study of German. Fenelon. 81 



CONTENTS. VI! 

CHAPTER IV. 

THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. 

1 845-1 850. 

I. 

Marriage and Settlement in New Bedford. Reminiscences. Letters. 
Birth of her First Child. Death of her Sister-in-Law. Letters . . 95 

n. 

Birth of a Son. Death of her Mother. Her Grief. Letters. Eddy's 
lUness and her own Cares. A Family Gathering at Newburyport. 
Extracts from Eddy's Journal 



II 



UL 
Further Extracts from Eddy's Journal. Ill-Health. Visit to Newark. 
Death of her Brother-in-Law, S. S. Prentiss. His Character. Re- 
moval to Newark. Letters ^ ^^ 



CHAPTER V. 

IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 
185I-1858. 

L 

Removal to New York, and first Summer there. Letters. Loss of 
Sleep and Anxiety about Eddy. Extracts from Eddy's Journal, 
Describing his last Illness and Death. Lines entitled, " To iMy 
Dying Eddy." ^-7 

n. 

Birth of her Third Child. Reminiscences of a Sabbath Evening 
Talk. Story of the Baby's Sudden Illness and Death. Summer of 
1852. Lines entitled, " My Nursery." '33 

HI. 
Summer at White Lake. Sudden Death of her Cousin, Miss Shipman. 
Quarantined. Lz/f/e S7(s/s S/v Birthdays. How she wrote it. 
The Flower of the Fa?nily. Her Motive in Writing it. Letter of 
Sympathy to a bereaved Mother. A Summer at the Seaside. 
Henry ajid Bessie 3 



VllI CONTENTS. 

IV. 

A memorable Year. Lines on the Anniversary of Eddy's Death. Ex- 
tracts from her Journal. Little Susys Six Teachers. The Teach- 
ers' Meeting. A New York Waif. Summer in the Country. Let- 
ters. Little Sicsfs Little Servajtts. Extracts from her Journal. 
" Alone with God,". 143 

V. 

Ready for new Trials. Dangerous Illness. Extracts from her Jour- 
nal. Visit to Greenwood. Sabbath Meditations. Birth of another 
Son. Her Husband resigns his Pastoral Charge. Voyage to 
Europe 155 

CHAPTER VL 

IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. 
1858-1860. 

L 

Life Abroad. Letters about the Voyage, and the Journey from Havre 
to Switzerland, Chateau d'Oex. Letters from there. The Chalet 
Rosat. The Free Church of the Canton de Vaud, Pastor Panchaud. 160 

IL 

Montreux. The Swiss Autumn, Castle of Chillon. Death and Sor- 
row of Friends at Home. Twilight Talks. Spring Flowers 170 

HL 
The Campagne Genevrier. Vevay. Beauty of the Region. Birth of 
a Son. Visit from Professor Smith. Excursion to Chamouni. 
Whooping-cough and Scarlet-fever among the Children. Doctor 
Curchod. Letters 1 76 

IV. 
Paris. Sight-seeing. A sick Friend. London and its Environs. The 
Queen and Prince Albert. The Isle of Wight. Homeward 189 

CHAPTER VIL 

THE STRUGGLE WITH ILL-HEALTH. 
1861-1865. 

L 

At Home again in New York. The Church of the Covenant. Increas- 
ing Ill-heallh, The Summer of 1861. Death of Louisa Payson 



CONTENTS. IX 

Hopkins. Extracts from her Journal. Summer of 1862. Letters. 
Despondency 201 

II. 

Another care-worn Summer. Letters from Williamstown and Rocka- 
way. Hymn on Laying the Corner-stone of the Church of the 
Covenant 21a 

III. 

Happiness in her Children. The Summer of 1864. Letters from Hun- 
ter. Affliction among Friends 217 

IV. 

D-Kith of President Lincoln. Dedication of the Church of the Cove- 
nant. Growing Insomnia. Resolves to try the Water-cure. Its 
beneficial Effects. Summer at Newburgh. Reminiscences of an 
Excursion to Palz Point. Death of her Husband's Mother. Fu- 
neral of her Nephew, Edward Payson Hopkins 223 



CHAPTER VIH. 

THE pastor's wife AND DAUGHTER OF CONSOLATION. 
1866-1868. 

I. 

Happiness as a Pastor's Wife. Visits to Newport and Williamstown. 
Letters. The Great Portland Fire. First Summer at Dorset. The 
new Parsonage occupied. Second Summer at Dorset. Little 
Loiis Sayings and Doings. Project of a Cottage. Letters. The 
Little Preacher, Illness and Death of Mrs. Edward Payson and 
of Little Francis -. 23c 

II. 

Last Visit from Mrs. Steams. Visits to old Friends at Newport and 
Rochester. Letters. Goes to Dorset. Fred and Maria and Me. 
Letters 238 

III. 

Return to Town. Death of an old Friend. Letters and Notes of Love 
and Sympathy. An Old Ladies' Party. Scenes of Trouble and 
Dying Beds. Fifty Years Old. Letters 248 



X CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER IX. 

STEPPING HEAVENWARD. 

1869, 

I. 

Death of Mrs. Stearns. Her Character. Dangerous Illness of Prof. 
Smith. Death at the Parsonage. Letters. A Visit to Vassar Col- 
lege. Letters. Getting ready for the General Assembly. " Gates 
Ajar " 261 

II. 

How she earned her Sleep. Writing for young Converts about speak- 
ing the Truth. Meeting of the General Assembly in the Church 
of the Covenant. Reunion, D.D.'s, and Strawberry Short-cake. 
" Enacting the Tiger." Getting Ready for Dorset. Letters 27c 

III. 

The new Home in Dorset. What it became to her. Letters from 
there 



274 



IV. 



Return to Town. Domestic Changes. Letters. " My Heart sides with 
God in everything." Visiting among the Poor. " Conflict isn't 
Sin." Publication of Stepping Heavejiward. Her Misgivings 
about it. How it was received. Reminiscences by Miss E. A. 
Warner. Letters. The Rev. Wheelock Craig 277 

V. 
Recollections by Mrs. Henry B. Smith 288 



CHAPTER X. 

ON THE MOUNT. 

1870. 

I. 

A. happy Year. Madame Guyon. What sweetens the Cup of earth- 
ly Trials and the Cup of earthly Joy. Death of Mrs. Julia B. 



CONTENTS. .Xi 

Cady. Her Usefulness. Sickness and Death of other Friends. 
"My Cup runneth over." Letters. "More Love to Thee, O 
Christ " 29a 

n. 

Her Silver Wedding. ** I have lived, I have loved.'* No Joy can put 
her out of Sympathy with the Trials of Friends. A Glance back- 
ward. Last Interview with a dying Friend. More Love and more 
Likeness to Christ. Funeral of a little Baby. Letters to Christian 
Friends yx. 

in. 

Lines on going to Dorset. A Cloud over her. Faber's Life. Loving 
Friends for one's own sake and loving them for Christ's sake. The 
Bible and the Christian Life. Dorset Society and Occupations. 
Counsels to a young Friend in Trouble. "Don't stop praying for 
your Life ! " Cure for the Heart-sickness caused by the Sight of 
human Imperfections. Fenelon's Teaching about Humiliation and 
being patient with Ourselves 3^7 

IV. 

The Story Lizzie Told. Country and City. The Law ot Christian 
Progress. Letters to a Friend bereft of three Children. Sudden 
Death of another Friend. " Go on ; step faster." Fenelon and his 
Influence upon her religious Life. Lines on her Indebtedness to 
him 314 



CHAPTER XI. 

IN HER HOME. 

L 

Home-life in New York 3^2 

XL 
Home-life in Dorset 34^ 

III. 
Further Glimpses of her Dorset Life 35^ 



^^ CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XII. 

THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 

1871-1872. 

I. 

Two Years of Suffering. Its Nature and Causes. Spiritual Conflicts. 
Ill-health. Faith a Gift to be won by Prayer. Death-bed of Dr 
Skinner. Visit to Philadelphia. "Daily Food." How to read the 
Bible so as to love it more. Letters of Sympathy and Counsel. 
"Prayer for Holiness brings Suffering." Perils of human Friend- 
ship 



361 



II. 
Her Husban^l called to Chicago. Lines on going to Dorset. Letters 
to young Friends on the Christian Life. Narrow Escape from 
Death. Feeling on returning to Town. Her " Praying Circle " 
The Chicago Fire. The true Art of Living. God our only safe 
Teacher. An easily-besetting Sin. Counsels to young- Friends 

Letters ^ 

373 

III. 

•'Holiness and Usefulness go hand-in-hand." No two Souls dealt 
with exactly alike. Visits to a stricken Home. Another Side of 
her Life. Visit to a Hospital. Christian Friendship. Letters to a 
bereaved Mother. Submission not inconsistent with Suffering 
Thoughts at the Funeral of a little " Wee Davie." Assurance of 
Faith. Funeral of Prof. Hopkins. His Character , 385 

IV. 
Christian Parents to expect Piety in their Children. Perfection. " Peo- 
ple make too much Parade of their Troubles." "Higher Life" 
Doctrines. Letter to Mrs. Washburn. Last Visit to Williamstown 394 



CHAPTER XIII. 

PEACEABLE FRUIT. 

1 873- 1 874. 

I. 

Effect of spiritual Conflict upon her religious Life. Overflowing Af- 
fections. Her Husband called to Union Theological Seminary. 



CONTENTS. xm 

Baptism t f Suffering. The Character of her Friendships. No per- 
fect Life. Prayer. " Only God can satisfy a Woman." Why 
human Friendship is a Snare. Letters 399 

II. 

Goes to Dorset. Christian Example. At Work among her Flowers. 
Dangerous Illness. Her Feeling about Dying. Death an " Invita- 
tion " from Christ. " The Under-current bears Home,'' " More 
Love, more Love ! " A Trait of Character. Special Mercies. 
What makes a sweet Home. Letters 4^5 

in. 

Change of Home and Life in New York. A Book about Robbie. Her 
Sympathy with young People. " I have in me two different Nat- 
ures," What Dr. De Witt said at the Grave of his Wife. The 
Way to meet little Trials. Faults in Prayer-meetings. How special 
Theories of the Christian Life are formed. Sudden Illness of Prof. 
Smith. Publication of Golden Hours. How it was received 414 

IV. 

Incidents of the Year 1874. Starts a Bible-reading in Dorset. Be- 
gins to take Lessons in Painting. A Letter from her Teacher. 
Publication of Urbane and His Friends. Design of the Work. 
Her Views of the Christian Life. The Mystics. The Indwelling 
Christ. An Allegory 425 



CHAPTER XIV. 

WORK AND PLAY. 

1875-1877. 

I. 

A Bible-reading in New York. Her Painting. " Grace for Grace." 
Death of a young Friend. The Summer at Dorset. Bible-read- 
ings there. Encompassed with Kindred. Typhoid Fever in the 
House. Watching and Waiting. The Return to Town. A Day 
of Family Rejoicing. Life a " Battle-field " 439 

IL 

The Moody and Sankey Meetings. Her Interest in them. Mr. Moody. 
Publication of Grisehia. Goes to the Centennial. At Dorset 
again. Her Bible-readings. A Moody-meeting Convert. Visit to 



XIV CONTENTS. 

Montreal. Publication of The Home at Greylock. Her Theory of 
a happy Home. Marrying for Love. Her Sympathy with young 
Mothers. Letters 445 

III. 

The Year 1877. Death of her Cousin, the Rev. Charles H. Payson. 
Last Illness and Death of Prof. Smith. " Let us take our Lot in 
Life just as it comes." Adorning one's Home. How much Time 
shall be given to it ? God's Delight in His beautiful Creations. 
Death of Dr. Buck. Visiting the sick and bereaved. An Ill-turn. 
Goes to Dorset. The Strangeness of Life. Kauinfels. The Bible- 
reading. Letters 466 

IV. 

Return to Town. Recollections of this Period. "Ordinary " Chris- 
tians and Spiritual Conflict. A tired Sunday Evening. " We may 
make an Idol of our Joy." Publication of Pemaqiud, Kezia 
Millet 47^ 



CHAPTER XV. 

FOREVER WITH THE LORD. 

1878. 

I. 

Enters upon her last Year on Earth. A Letter about The Home at 
Greylock. Her Motive in writing Books. Visit to the Aquarium. 
About " Worry." Her Painting. Saturday Afternoons with her. 
What she was to her Friends. Resemblance to Madame de Brog- 
lie. Recollections of a Visit to East River. A Picture of her by 
an old Friend. Goes to Dorset. Second Advent Doctiine. Last 
Letters 



48s 



II. 

Liltlo Incidents and Details of her last Days on Earth. Last Visit to 

the Woods. Sudden Illness. Last Bible-reading. Last Drive to 

Hager Brook. Reminiscence of a last Interview. Closing Scenes. 

Death. The Burial 

Appendix 



507 
533 



CHAPTER I. 

THE CHILD AND THE GIRL, 

1818-1839. 

I. 

Birth-place and Ancestry. Seth Payson. Edward Payson. His Mother. A Sketch o( 
his Life and Character. The Fervor of his Piety. Despondent Moods and thcis 
Cause. Bright, natural Traits. How he prayed and preached. Conversational 
Gift. Love to Christ. Triumphant Death. 

Mrs. Prentiss was fortunate in the place of her birth. 
She first saw the Hght at Portland, Maine. Maine was then a 
district of Massachusetts, and Portland was its chief town 
and seaport, distinguished for beauty of situation, enterprise, 
intelligence, social refinement and all the best qualities of 
New England character. Not a few of the early settlers had 
come from Cape Cod and other parts of the old Bay State, and 
the blood of the Pilgrim Fathers ran in their veins. Among 
its leading citizens at that time were such men as Stephen 
Longfellow, Simon Greenleaf, Prentiss Mellen, Samuel Fessen- 
den, Ichabod Nichols, Edward Payson, and Asa Cummings ; 
men eminent for private and public virtue, and some of whom 
were destined to become still more widely known, by their 
own growing influence, or by the genius of their children. 

But while favored in the place of her birth, Mrs. Prentiss 
was more highly favored still in her parentage. For more than 
half a century the name of her father has been a household 
word among the churches not of New England only, but 
throughout the land and even beyond the sea. It is among 
the most beloved and honored in the annals of American 
piety.^ He belonged to a very old Puritan stock, and to a 

* For many years after the publication of his Memoir, it was so often given to children 
at their baptism that at one time those who bore it, in and out of New England, were 
to be numbered by hundreds, if not thousands. " I once saw the deaths of three little 
Edward Payson s in one paper," wrote Mrs. Prentiss in 1852. 



2 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

family noted during two centuries for the number of ministers 
of the Gospel who have sprung from it. The first in the line 
of his ancestry in this country was Edward, who came over 
in the brig Hopewell, William Burdeck, Master, in 1635-6, and 
settled in the town of Roxbury. He was a native of Nasing, 
Essex Co., England. Among his fellow-passengers in the 
Hopewell was Mary Eliot, then a young girl, sister of John 
Eliot, the illustrious " Apostle to the Indians." Some years 
later she became his wife. Their youngest son, Samuel, was 
father of the Rev. Phillips Payson, who was born at Dor- 
chester, Massachusetts, 1705, and settled at Walpole, in the 
same State, in 1730. He had four sons in the ministry, all, 
like himself, graduates of Harvard College. The youngest of 
these, the Rev. Seth Payson, D.D., Mrs. Prentiss' grandfather, 
was born September 30, 1758, was ordained and settled at 
Rindge, New Hampshire, December 4, 1782, and died there, 
after a pastorate of thirty-seven years, February 26, 1820. 
His wife was Grata Payson, of Pomfret, Conn. He was a 
man widely known in his day and of much weight in the 
community, not only in his own profession but in civil life, 
also, having several times filled the office of State senator. 
When in 18 19 a plan was formed to remove Williams College 
to a more central location, and several towns competed for 
the honor. Dr. Payson was associated with Chancellor Kent 
of New York, and Governor John Cotton Smith of Connec- 
ticut, as a committee to decide upon the rival claims. He is 
described as possessing a sharp, vigorous intellect, a lively 
imagination, a very retentive memory, and was universally 
esteemed as an able and faithful minister of Christ.' 

Edward, the eldest son of Seth and Grata Payson, was born 
at Rindge, July 25, 1783. His mother was noted for her 
piety, her womanly discretion, and her personal and mental 
graces. Edward was her first-born, and from his infancy to 
the last year of his life she lavished upon him her love and 
her prayers. The relation between them was very beautiful. 

» He was the author of a curious work entitled, " Proofs of the real Existence, and 
dangerous Tendency, of Illuminism." Charlestown, iSc2, By " lUuminism " he means 
an orgftnised attempt, or conspiracy, to undermine the foundations of Christian society 
and establish upon its ruins the system of atheism. 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 3 

His letters to her are models of filial devotion, and her letters 
to him are full of tenderness, good sense, and pious wisdom. 
He inherited some of her most striking traits, and through 
him they passed on to his youngest daughter, who often said 
that she owed her passion for the use of the pen and her 
fondness for rhyming to her grandmother Grata.' 

Edward Payson was in all respects a highly-gifted man. 
His genius was as marked as his piety. There is a charm about 
his name and the story of his life, that is not likely soon to 
pass away. He belonged to a class of men who seem to be 
chosen of Heaven to illustrate the sublime possibilities of 
Christian attainment — men of seraphic fervor of devotion, 
and whose one overmastering passion is to win souls fot 
Christ and to become wholly like Him themselves. Into 
this goodly fellowship he was early initiated. There is 
something startling in the depth and intensity of his religious 
emotions, as recorded in his journal and letters. Nor is it to 
be denied that they are often marred by a very morbid ele- 
ment. Like David Brainerd, the missionary saint of New 
England, to whom in certain features of his character he bore 
no little resemblance, Edward Payson was of a melancholy 
temperament and subject, therefore, to sudden and sharp 
alternations of feeling. While he had great capacity for en- 
joyment, his capacity for suffering was equally great. Nor 
were these native traits suppressed, or always overruled, by 
his religious faith ; on the contrary, they affected and modi- 
fied his whole Christian life. In its earlier stages, he was apt 
to lay too much stress by far upon fugitive " frames," and to 
mistake mere weariness, torpor, and even diseased action of 
body or mind, for coldness toward his Saviour. And almost 
to the end of his days he was, occasionally, visited by seasons 
of spiritual gloom and depression, which, no doubt, were 
chiefly, if not solely, the result of physical causes. It was an 
error that grew readily out of the brooding introspection and 
self-anatomy which marked the religious habit of the times. 
The close connection between physical causes and mor- 

» " I spent part of last evening reading over some old letters of my grandmother's and 
never realised before what a remarkable woman she was both as to piety and talent"— 
From a letter of Mrs. Prentiss^ written in 1S64. 



4 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

bid or abnormal conditions of the spiritual life, was not 
as well understood then as it is now. Many things were 
ascribed to Satanic influence which should have been ascrib(id 
rather to unstrung nerves and loss of sleep, or to a violaticjn 
of the laws of health/ The disturbing influence of nervous 
and other bodily or mental disorders upon religious experi- 
ence deserves a fuller discussion than it has yet received. It 
is a subject which both modern science and modern thought, 
if guided by Christian wisdom, might help greatly to eluci- 
date. 

The morbid and melancholy element, however, was only a 
painful incident of his character. It tinged his life with a 
vein of deep sadness and led to undue severity of self-disci- 
pline ; but it did not seriously impair the strength and beauty 
of his Christian manhood. It rather served to bring them 
into fuller relief, and even to render more striking those bright 
natural traits — the sportive humor, the ready mother wit, the 
facetious pleasantry, the keen sense of the ridiculous, and the 
wondrous story-telling gift — which made him a most delight- 
ful companion to young and old, to the wise and the unlet- 
tered alike. It served, moreover, to impart peculiar tender- 
ness to his pastoral intercourse, especially with members of 
his flock tried and tempted like as he was. He had learned 
how to counsel and comfort them by the things which he also 
had suffered. He may have been too exacting and harsh in 
dealing with himself; but in dealing with other souls nothing 
could exceed the gentleness, wisdom, and soothing influence 
of his ministrations. 

As a preacher he was the impersonation of simple, earnest, 
and impassioned utterance. Although not an orator in the 
ordinary sense of the term, he touched the hearts of his hear- 
ers with a power beyond the reach of any orator>\ Some of 

' In a letter to iiis mother, written when Elizabeth was three years old, he says : " E. 
has a terrible abscess, which we feared would prove too much for her slender constitu- 
tion. We were almost worn out with watching ; and, just as she began to mend, I was 
seized with a violent ague in my face, which gave me incessant anguish for six days and 
nights together, and deprived me almost entirely of sleep. Three nights I did not close 
ray eyes. When well nigh distracted with pain and loss of sleep, Satan was let loose 
upon me, to buffet me, and I verily thought would have driven me to desperation and 
madness." 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 5 

his printed sermons are models in their kind* that e.g. on 
" Sins estimated by the Light of Heaven," and that addressed 
to Seamen, liis theology was a mild type of the old New En 
gland Calvinism, modified, on the one hand, by the influence 
of his favorite authors — such as Thomas a Kempis, and 
Fenelon, the Puritan divines of the seventeenth century, John 
Newton and Richard Cecil— and on the other, by his own 
profound experience and seraphic love. Of his theology, his 
preaching and his piety alike, Christ was the living centre. 
His expressions of personal love to the Saviour are surpassed 
by nothing in the writings of the old mystics. Here is a 
passage from a letter to his mother, written while he was still 
a young pastor: 

I have sometimes heard of spells and charms to excite love, and have 
wished for them, when a boy, that I might cause others to love me. But 
how much do I now wish for some charm which should lead men to love 
the Saviour ! . . . . Could I paint a true lilceness of Him, methinks I should 
rejoice to hold it up to the view and admiration of all creation, and be hid 
behind it forever. It would be heaven enough to hear Him praised and 
adored. But I can not paint Him ; I can not describe Him ; I can not make 
others love Him ; nay. I can not love Him a thousandth part so much as 
I ought myself. O, for an angel's tongue ! O, for the tongues of ten 
thousand angels, to sound His praises. 

He had a remarkable familiarity with the word of God and 
his mind seemed surcharged with its power. " You could not, 
in conversation, mention a passage of Scripture to him but 
you found his soul in harmony with it — the most apt illustra- 
tions would flow from his lips, the fire of devotion would 
beam from his eye, and you saw at once that not only could 
he deliver a sermon from it, but that the ordinary time allot- 
ted to a sermon would be exhausted before he could pour cuit 
the fullness of meaning which a sentence from the word o* 
God presented to his mind." ' 

He was wonderfully gifted in prayer. Here all his intel- 
lectual, imaginative, and spiritual powers were fused into one 
and poured themselves forth in an unbroken stream of peni- 
tential and adoring affection. When he said, " Let us pray," 
a divine influence seemed to rest upon all present. Hig 

1 The late President Wayland. 



6 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

prayers were not mere pious mental exercises, they were 6& 
vout inspirations. 

No one can form an adequate conception of what Dr. Payson was from 
any of the productions of his pen. Admirable as his written sermons aie, 
his extempore prayers and the gushings of his heart in familiar talk were 
altogether higher and more touching than anything he wrote. It was ny 
custom to close my eyes when he began to pray, and it was always a letti.\g 
down, a sort of rude fall, to open them again, when he had concluded, and 
find myself still on the earth. His prayers always took my spirit into the 
immediate presence of Christ, amid the glories of the spiritual world ; and 
to look round again on this familiar and comparatively misty earth was 
almost painful. At every prayer I heard him offer, during the seven years 
in which he was my spiritual guide, I never ceased to feel new astonish- 
ment, at the wonderful variety and depth and richness and even novelty ol 
feeling and expression which were poured forth. This was a feeling with 
which every hearer sympathised, and it is a fact well-known, that Chris- 
tians trained under his influence were generally remarkable for their devo- 
tional habits.^ 

Dr. Payson possessed rare conversational powers and loved 
to wield them in the service of his Master. When in a genial 
mood — and the mild excitement of social intercourse generally 
put him in such a mood — his familiar talk was equally de- 
lightful and instructive. He was, in truth, an improvisatore. 
Quick perception, an almost intuitive insight into character, 
an inexhaustible fund of fresh, original thought and incident, 
the happiest illustrations, and a memory that never faltered 
in recalling what he had once read or seen, easy self-control, 
and ardent sympathies, all conspired to give him this pre- 
eminence. Without effort or any appearance of incongruity 
he could in turn be grave and gay, playful and serious. This 
came of the utter sincerity and genuineness of his character. 
There was nothing artificial about him ; nature and grace had 
full play and, so to say, constantly ran into each other. A 
keen observer, who knew him well, both in private and in 
public, testifies: "His facetiousness indeed was ever a near 
neighbor to his piety, if it was not a part of it ; and his most 
cheerful conversations, so far from putting his mind out of 
tune for acts of religious worship, seemed but a happy prepa- 

1 Prof. Calvin E. Stowe, D.D. 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 7 

ration for the exercise of devotional feelings.' * This co. 
existence of serious with playful elements is often found in 
natures of unusual depth and richness, just as tragic and comic 
powers sometimes co-exist in a great poet. 

The same qualities that rendered him such a master of con- 
versation, lent a potent charm to his familiar religious talks 
in the prayer-meeting, at the fireside, or in the social circle. 
Always eager to speak for his Master, he knew how to do it 
with a wise skill and a tenderness of feeling that disarmed 
prejudice and sometimes won the most determined foe. Even 
in administering reproof or rebuke there was the happiest 
union of tact and gentleness. " What makes you blush so ? " 
said a reckless fellow in the stage, to a plain country girl, who 
was receiving the mail-bag at a post office from the hand of 
the driver. ''What makes you blush so, my dear?" "Per- 
haps," said Dr. Payson, who sat near him and was unobserved 
till now, " Perhaps it is because some one spoke rudely to hei 
when the stage was along here the last time." 

Edward Payson was graduated at Harvard College in tho 
class of 1803. In the autumn of that year he took charge o? 
an academy then recently established in Portland. Resigning 
this position in 1806, he returned home and devoted himself 
to the study of divinity under his father's care. He was 
licensed to preach in May, 1807, and a few months later re- 
ceived a unanimous call to Portland, where he was ordained 
in December of the same year. On the 8th of May, 18 11, he 
was married to Ann Louisa Shipman, of New Haven, Conn. 
An extract from a m:i:ily letter to Miss Shipman, written a 
few weeks after their engagement, will show the spirit which 
inspired him both as a lover and a husband : 

When I wrote my first letter after my late visit, I felt almost angry with 
you and quite so with myself. And why angry with you ? Because I be- 
gan to fear you would prove a dangerous rival to my Lord and Master, and 
draw away my heart from His service. My Louisa, should this be the 
case, I should certainly hate you. I am Christ's ; I must be Christ's ; He 
has purchased me dearly, and I should hate the mother who bore me, it 
she proved even the innocent occasion of drawing me from Him. I feared 

1 The late Rev. Absalom Peters, D.D. 



% THE UFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

that you would do this. For a little time the conflict of my feelings was 
dreadful beyond description. For a few moments I wished I had never 
seen you. Had you been a right hand, or a right eye, had you been the 
life-blood in my veins (and you are dear to me as either) I must have given 
you up. had I continued to feel as I did. But blessed be God, He has 
shown mc my weakness only to strengthen me. I now feel very differently. 
1 still love you dearly as ever, but my love leads me to Christ and not/rom 
Him. 

Dr. Payson received repeated invitations to important 
churches in Boston and New York, but declining them all, 
continued in the Portland pastorate until his death, which oc- 
curred October 22, 1827, in the forty-fifth year of his age. 
The closing months of his life were rendered memorable by 
an extraordinary triumph of Christian faith and patience, as 
well as of the power of mind over matter. His bodily suffer- 
ing and agonies were indescribable, but, like one of the old 
martyrs in the midst of the flames, he seemed to forget them 
all in the greatness of his spiritual joy. In a letter written 
shortly after his death, Mrs. Payson gives a touching account 
of the tender and thoughtful concern for her happiness which 
marked his last illness. Knowing, for example, that she 
would be compelled to part with her house, he was anxious 
to have a smaller one purchased and occupied at once, so that 
his presence in it for a little while might make it seem more 
liome-like to her and to her children after he was gone. "To 
tell you (she adds) what he was the last six memorable weeks 
would be altogether beyond my skill. All who beheld him 
called his countenance angelic." She then repeats some of 
his farewell words to her. Begging that she would " not dwell 
upon his poor, shattered frame, but follow his blessed spirit 
to the. realms of glory," he burst forth into an exultant song 
of delight, as if already he saw the King in His beauty ! The 
well-known letter to his sister Eliza, dated a few weeks before 
l)is di'[)nrtiirr. breathes the same spirit. Here is an extract 
Iroin it : 

Wrrf I to adopt the figurative language of Bunyan, I might date this 
letter from the land of IJculah. of which I have been for some weeks a 
happy inhahitaiu. The celestial city is full in my view, its glories beam 
Upon nic, ili buivt-. fan uk, ili odufb arc walLud lo mc, its bounds strike 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. g 

upon my ear, and its spirit is breathed into my heart. Nothing separates 
me from it but the river of death, which now appears but as an insignifi- 
cant rill, that may be crossed at a single step, whenever God shall give 
permission. The Sun of Righteousness has been gradually drawing nearer 
and nearer, appearing larger and brighter as He approached, and now He 
fills the whole hemisphere, pouring forth a flood of glory, in which I seem 
to float like an insect in the beams of the sun, exulting yet almost trem- 
bling while I gaze on this excessive brightness, and wondering, with unut- 
terable wonder, why God should deign thus to shine upon a sinful worm. 
A single heart and a single tongue seem altogether inadequate to my 
wants ; I want a whole heart for every separate emotion, and a whole 
tongue to express that emotion. But why do I speak thus of myself and my 
feelings ? why not speak only of our God and Redeemer ? It is because I 
know not what to say — when I would speak of them my words are all 
swallowed up. 

And thus, gazing already upon the Beatific Vision, he passed 
on into glory. What is written concerning his Lord and Master 
might with almost literal truth have been inscribed over his 
grave : T/ie zeal of Thy house hath eaten me tip. 



II. 

Birth and Childhood of Elizabeth Payson. Early Traits. Devotion to her Father. His 
Influence upon her. Letters to her Sister. Removal to New York. Reminiscences 
of the Payson Family. 

Elizabeth Payson was born " about three o'clock " — so 
her father records it — on Tuesday afternoon, October 26, 18 18. 
She was the fifth of eight children, two of whom died in in- 
fancy. All good influences seem to have encircled her natal 
hour. In a letter to his m.othcr, dotted October 27, Dr Payson 
enumerates six special mercies, by which the happy event had 
been crowned. One of them was the gratification of the 
mother's " wish for a daughter rather than a son." Another 
was God's goodness to him in sparing both the mother and 
the child in spite of his fear that he should lose them. This 
fear, strangely enough, was occasioned by the unusual religious 
peace and comfort which he had been enjoying. He had a 
presentiment that in this way God was forearming him for 



10 THE LIFE OF MRS. PREXTISS. 

some extraordinary trial; and tlic loss of his wife seemed tc 
him most likely to be that trial. *' God has been so gracious 
to me in spiritual things, that I thought He was preparing me 
for Louisa's death. Indeed it may be so still, and if so His 
will be done Let Him take all— and if He leaves us Himself 
we still have all and abound." The next day he writes : 

Still God is kind to us. Louisa and the babe continue as well as we 
could desire. Truly, my cup runs over with blessings. I can still scarcely 
help thinking that God is preparing me for some severe trial ; but if He 
will grant me His presence as He does now, no trial can seem severe. Oh, 
could I now drop the body, I would stand and cry to all eternity without 
being wear>' : God is holy, God is just, God is good ; God is wise and faith- 
ful and true. Either of His perfections alone is sufficient to furnish mattei 
for an eternal, unwearied song. Could I sing upon paper I should break 
forth into singing, for day and night I can do nothing but sing -'Let the 
saints be joyful," etc., etc. But I must close. I can not send so much love 
and thankfulness to my parents as they deserve. My present happiness, 
all my happiness I ascribe under God to them and their prayers. 

Surely, a home inspired and ruled by such a spirit was a 
sweet home to be born into ! 

The notices of Elizabeth's childhood depict her as a dark- 
eyed, delicate little creature, of sylph-like form, reserved and 
shy in the presence of strangers, of a s\vcet disposition, and 
very intense in her sympathies. " Until I was three years old 
mother says I was a little angel," she once wrote to a friend. 
Her constitution was feeble, and she inherited from her father 
bis high-strung nervous temperament. " I never knew what 
it was to feel well," she wrote in 1 840. Severe pain in the 
side, fainting turns, the sick headache, and other ailments 
troubleti her, more or less, from infancy. She had an eye wide 
open to the world about her, and quick to catch its varying 
aspects of light and beauty, whether on land or sea. The 
slii|)s and wharves not far from her father's house, the observ- 
atory anil fort on the hill overlooking Casco Bay, the White 
Mountains far away in the distance, Deering's oaks, the rope- 
walk, and the ancient bur>ing-ground— these and other famil- 
iar objects of "the dear old town," commemorated by Long- 
fellow in his poem entitled " My Lost Youth," were indelibly 
fixed in her memory and followed her wherever she went, to 



THE CHILD AND THE GH^L. 1 1 

the end of her days. In her movements she was light-footed, 
venturesome to rashness, and at times wild with fun and frolic! 
Her whole being was so impressionable that things pleasant 
and things painful stamped themselves upon it as with the 
point of a diamond. Whatever she did, whatever she felt, 
she felt and did as for her life. Allusion has been made tc 
the intensity of her sympathies. The sight or tale of suffer- 
ing would set her in a tremor of excitement ; and in her eager- 
ness to give relief she seemed ready for any sacrifice, however 
great. This trait arrested the observant eye of her father, and 
he expressed to Mrs. Payson his fear lest it might some day 
prove a real misfortune to the child. *' She will be in danger 
of marrying a blind man, or a helpless cripple, out of pure 
sympathy," he once said. 

But by far the strongest of all the impressions of her child- 
hood related to her father. His presence was to her the hap- 
piest spot on earth, and any special expression of his affection 
would throw her into an ecstasy of delight. When he was 
away she pined for his return. " The children all send a great 
deal of love, and Elizabeth says, Do tell Papa to come home," 
wrote her mother to him, when she was six years old. Her 
recollections of her father were singularly vivid. She could 
describe minutely his domestic habits, how he looked and 
talked as he sat by the fireside or at the table, his delight in 
and skillful use of carpenters' tools, his ingenious devices for 
amusing her and diverting his own weariness as he lay sick in 
bed, e.g., tearing up sheets of white paper into tiny bits, and 
then letting her pour them out of the window to " make be- 
lieve it snowed," or counting all the bristles in a clothes-brush, 
and then as she came in from school, holding it up and bid- 
ding her guess their number — his coolness and efficiency in 
the wild excitements of a conflagration, the calm deliberation 
with which he walked past the horror-stricken lookers on and 
cut the rope by which a suicide was suspended; these and 
other incidents she would recall a third of a century after his 
death, as if she had just heard of or just witnessed them. To 
her child's imagination his memory seemed to be invested 
with the triple halo of father, hero, and saint. A little picture 



,2 THE T.IFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

of him was always near her. She never mentioned his name 
without tender affection and reverence. Nor is this at all 
stran^^e. She was almost nine years old when he died ; and 
his influence, diring these years, penetrated to her inmost 
iK-ing. She once said that of her father's virtues one only- 
punctuality— had descended to her. But here she was surely 
wrong. Not only did she owe to him some of the most strik- 
ing peculiarities of her physical and mental constitution, but 
her piety itself, if not inherited, was largely inspired and 
shaped by his. In the whole tone and expression of her ear- 
lier religious life, at least, one sees him clearly reflected. His 
devotional habits, in particular, left upon her an indelible im- 
l)rcssion. Once, when four or five years old, rushing by mis- 
take into his room, she found him prostrate upon his face — 
completely lost in prayer. A short time before her death, 
.speaking of this scene to a friend, she remarked that the re- 
membrance of it had influenced her ever since. What some- 
body said of Sara Coleridge might indeed have been said with 
no less truth of Elizabeth Payson : "Her father had looked 
down into her eyes and left in them the light of his own." 

The only records of her childhood from her own pen con- 
sist of the following letters, written to her sister, while the lat- 
ter was passing a year in Boston. She was then nine years old. 

Portland, May i8, 1828. 
Mv Dr.AR SisTKR : — I thank you for writing to such a little 
pirl as I am, when you have so little time, I was going to study 
a little catechism which Miss Martin has got, but she said I 
c«>uiil not learn it. I want to learn it. I do not like to stay so 
long at school. Wc have to write composition by dictation, as 
Miss Martin calls it. She reads to us out of a book a sentence 
at a time. We write it and then we write it again on our slates, 
l.cf.Misc wi' do not always get the whole; then we write it on a 
pjif.- of paj)rr. Miss Martin says I may say my Sunday-school 
(k-ss(.)n] lin-rc. Mi. Miti:luil lias had a great many new books. 
I have been sitk. Dodor Cununiiigs has been here and says E. 

is belter and he thinks he will not have a fever G. goes 

to school to Miss Libby, and II. goes to Master Jackson. H 
sends his love. Good-bye. 

Your affectionate sister, E. Pavson. 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 



13 



Sepfc-mber 2(), 1S28, 

Mv Dk.\r Sister : — I think you were very kind to write to 
nie, when you have so little time. I began to go to Mrs. 
Petrie's school a week ago 3^esterday. I stay at home Mon. 
days in the morning to assist in taking care of Charles or such 
little things as I can do. G. goes with me. When mother pui 
Charles and him to bed, as soon as she had done praying \\\\.h 
them, G. said. Mother, will this world be all burnt up when we 
are dead ? She said, Yes, my dear, it will. What, and all the 
dishes too ? will they melt like lead ? and will the ground be 
burnt up too ? O what a nasty fire it will make. I saw the North- 
ern lights last night. I sleep in a very large pleasant room in 

the bed with mother I have a very pleasant room for my 

baby-house over the porch which has two windows and a fire- 
place in it, and a little cupboard too. E. Wood and I are as 
intimate as ever. I suppose you know that Mr. Wood is build- 
ing him a brick house. Mrs. Merril's little baby is dead. It 
w^as buried yesterday afternoon. Mr. Mussey lives across 
the street from us. He has a great many elm trees in his front 
yard. His house is three stories high and the trees reach to 
the top. We have heard two or three times from E. since he 
went away. Yesterday all the Sabbath-schools walked in a 
procession and then went to our meeting-house and Mr. William 
Cutter addressed them. 

I am your affectionate sister, E. Payson. 

Her feeble constitution exposed her to severe attacks of 
disease, and in May, 1830, she was brought to the verge of 
the grave by a violent fever. Her mother was deeply moved 
by this event, and while recording in her journal God's good- 
ness in sparing Elizabeth, wonders whether it is to the end 
that she may one day devote herself to her Saviour and do 
something for the *' honor of religion." In the latter part of 
1830 Mrs. Payson removed to New York, where her eldest 
daughter opened a school for girls. It was during this resi- 
dence in New York that Elizabeth, at the age of twelve years, 
made a public confession of Christ and came to the Lords 
table for the first time. She was received into the Bleeckcr 
street — now the Fourth avenue — Presbyterian church, then 
under the pastoral care of the Rev. Erskine Mason, D.D., 



14 THE LITE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

May I, 1 83 1. Toward the close of the same year the family 
returned to Portland. 

In a letter addressed to her liusband, one of Mrs. Prentiss' 
oldest friends now living, Miss Julia D. Willis, has fur. 
nishcd the following reminiscences of her early years. While 
they confirm what has been said about her childhood, 
they arc especially valuable for the glimpses they give of hei 
father and mother and sister. The Willis and Payson families 
were very intimate and warmly attached to each other. Mr. 
Nathaniel Willis, the father of N. P. Willis the poet, was well 
known in connection with " The Boston Recorder," of which he 
was for many years the conductor and proprietor. Both Mr. 
and Mrs. Willis cherished the most affectionate veneration for 
the memory of Dr. Payson. So long as she lived their house 
was a home to Mrs. Payson and her daughters, whenever they 
visited Boston. 

As a preacher Dr. Payson could not fail to make a strong impression 
even on a child. Years ago in New York I once told Mrs. Prentiss, who 
w.is too young, at her father's death, to remember him well in the pulpit, 
that the only public speaker who ever reminded me of him, was Edwin 
lioolh in Hamlet. I surprised, and, I am afraid, a little shocked her, but 
it was quite true. The slender figure, the dark, brilliant eyes, the deep 
earnestness of tone, the rapid utterance combined with perfect distinctness 
of enunciation, in spite of surroundings the best calculated to repel such 
an association, recalled him vividly to my memory. 

My father's connection with the religious press after his removal from 
Portland to Boston, brought many clergymen to our house, who often, in 
the kindni-ss of their hearts, requited hospitality by religious conversation 
with the children, not church members, and presumably, therefore, impen- 
itent. I did not always appreciate this kinrlness as it desen'ed, and often 
exercised considerable ingenuity to avoid being alone with them. In Dr. 
Payson's case, I soon learned, on the contraiy, to seek such occasions. I 
was sure that before long he would look up from his book, or his manu- 
•cript. and have something pleasant or playful to say to me. His general 
conversation, however, was oftener on religious than on any other subjects, 
hut it was so evidently from the fullness of his heart, and his vivid imagina- 
lion afforded hitn such a wealth of illustration, that it was delightful even 
lo an " impenitent " child. Years afler^vard when I read in his Memoir ol 
h.s desponding temperament, of his seasons of gloom, of the sense of sin 
under which he was bowed down, it seemed impossible to me that it could 
»"• "M Dr. Payson. 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 1 5 

I visited Portland and was an inmate of his family, at the commence- 
ment of the illness that finally proved fatal. He was not contined to his 
bed, or to his room, but he was forbidden, indeed unable, to preach, unable 
to write or study ; he could only read and think. Still he did not shut hiai 
self up in his study with his sad thoughts. I remember him as usually 
seated with his book by the side of the fire, surrounded by his family, ai il 
he would enjoy their society as long as possible, and the children's play 
was never hushed on his account. Nor did he forget the young visitor. 
When the elder daughter, to whom my visit was made, was at school, he 
would care for my entertainment by telling a story, or propounding a rid- 
dle, or providing an entertaining book to beguile the time till Louisa's 
return. 

Among the group in that cheerful room, I remember Lizzy well, a beau- 
tiful child, slender, dark-eyed, light-footed, very quiet, evidently observant, 
but saying little, affectionate, yet not demonstrative. 

One evening during my visit, Mrs. Payson not being quite well, the elders 
had retired early, leaving Louisa and myself by the side of the fire, she 
preparing her school lesson and I occupied in reading. The lesson fin- 
ished, Louisa proposed retiring, but I was too much interested in my book 
to leave it and promised to follow soon. She left me rather reluctantly, 
and I read on, too much absorbed in my book to notice the time, till near 
midnight, v/hen I was startled by hearing Dr. Payson's step upon the stairs. 
I expected the reproof which I certainly deserved, but though evidently 
surprised at seeing me, he merely said, "You here? you must be cold. 
Why did you let the fire go out ? " Bringing in some wood he soon re- 
kindled it, and began to talk to me of the book I was reading, which was 
one of Walter Scott's poems. He then spoke of a poem which he had 
been reading that day, Southey's " Curse of Kehama. " He related to me 
with perfect clearness the long and rather involved story, with that wonder- 
ful memory of his, never once forgetting or confusing the strange Oriental 
names, and repeating word for word the curse : 

I charm thy life, from the weapons of strife, 

From stone and from wood, from fire and from flood, 

From the serpent's tooth, and the beasts of blood, 

From sickness I charm thee, and time shall not harm thee, etc., etc. 

I listened, intent, fascinated, forgot to ask why he was there instead of 
in his bed, forgot that it was midnight instead of mid-day. It was not till 
on bidding me good night he added, " I hope you will have a better night 
than I shall," that it occurred to me that he must be suffering. The next 
day I learned from his wife that when unable to sleep on account of his 
racking cough, he often left his bed at night, the cough being more endura- 
ble when in a sitting posture. I never saw Dr. Payson after that visit, nor 
for several years any of the family, except Louisa, who spent a year with 
us while attending school in Boston to fit herself as a teacher to aid in the 



l6 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

support of her younger brothers and sister. When I was next with them, 
Louisa was already at the head of a school in which her young sister was 
the brightest pupil, and to the profits of which she laid no personal claim 
all going untouched into the family purse. Several young girls, Louisa's 
pupils, had been received as boarders in the family, and occasionally a 
clcrgN'man was added to the number. It was during this visit that I first 
'earned to appreciate Mrs. Payson. Now that she stood alone at the head 
of the household, either her fine qualities were in bolder relief, or I being 
older, was better able to estimate them. The singular vivacity of her in- 
tellect made her a delightful companion. Then her youth had been passed 
in the literary circles of New Haven and Andover, and she had much to 
tell of distinguished people known to me only by reputation. 1 admired 
her firm yet gentle rule, so skilfully adapted to the varying natures under 
her charge ; her conscientious study of that homelv virtue economv. ro 
distasteful to one of her naturally lavish temper, always ready to give to 
those in need to an extent which called forth constant remonstrances from 
more pnident friends ; her alacrity also in all household labors, which the 
more excited my wonder, knowing the little opportunity she could have 
had to practise them amid the wealth of her father's house before the 
Embargo, which later wrecked his fortune with those of so many other 
New England merchants. She was, indeed, of a most noble nature, hating 
all meanness and injustice, and full of helpful kindness and sympathy. No 
woman ever had warmer or more devoted friends. 

Both at this time and in subsequent visits, as she advanced from child- 
hood to girlhood, I remember Lizzy well; although my attention was 
chiefly absorbed by the elder sister of my own age, my principal com- 
panion when present, and correspondent when absent. The two sisters 
were strongly contrasted. Louisa, as a child, was afflicted with a sensitive, 
almost morbid shyness and reserve, and an incapacity for enjoying the so- 
ciety of other children whose tastes were uncongenial with her own. The 
shyne!is passc<l with her childhood, but the sensitiveness and exclusiveness 
never quite left her. Her love of books was a passion, and she would re- 
sent an unfair criticism of a favorite author as warmly as if it were au 
all..ck on a personal friend. To Lizzy, on the contrary, a friend was a 
book which she loved to read. Human nature was her favorite study. 
There seemed to he no one in whom she could not find something to in- 
terest her. none with whom there was not some point of sympathy. Com- 
bn e.| w»th th.s wide and gcnhl sympathy was another quality which helped 
to endear her to her companions, viz., an entire absence of all attempt to 
•^.ow her best side, or put the best face on anything that concerned her. 
An mgrnuous frankness about herself and her affairs-even about her little 
weaknesst^wns one of her most striking traits. No one, indeed, could 
know her without learning to love her dearly. Yet if I should say that in 
my visits to Portland. Li^.y always appeared to me pre-eminently the life 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 



17 



and charm of the household, it would not be exactly true, thoug-h shn would 
have been so of almost any other household. The Payson family was a 
delightful one to visit, all were so bright, and in the contest of wits that 
took place often between Lizzy and her merry brothers, it was sometimes 
hard to tell which bore off the palm. 

I do not know that I ever thought of her at that time as an author. U 
anybody had predicted to me that one of that group would be the writer 
of books, which would not only have a wide circulation at home, but be 
translated into foreign languages, I should certainly have selected Louisa, 
and I think most persons who knew them would have done the same. The 
elder sister's passion for books, her great powers of acquisition, the range 
of her attainments — embracing not only modern languages and their litera- 
ture, but Latin, Greek and Hebrew— her ability to maintain discussions on 
German metaphysics and theology with learned Professors, all seemed to 
point her out as the one likely to achieve distinction in the literary world. 

I do not remember whether it was Lizzy's early contributions to "The 
Youth's Companion," showing already the germ of the creative power in 
her, or her letters to her sister, which first suggested to me that the pleas- 
ure her friends found in her conversation might yet be enjoyed by those 
who would never see her. Louisa had given up her school for the more 
congenial employment of contributing to magazines and reviews and of 
writing children's books. And as the greater literary resources of Boston 
drew her thither, she was often for months a welcome guest at our house, 
where she first met Professor Hopkins of Williamstown, and whom she 
afterward married. The letters which Lizzy wrote to her at those times 
were never allowed to be the monopoly of one person ; we all claimed a 
right to read them. The ease with which in these she seemed to talk with 
her pen, the mingled pathos and humor with which she would relate all 
the little joys and sorrows of daily life, leaving her readers between a smile 
and a tear, showed the same characteristics which afterward made her 
published writings so much more generally attractive than the graver ones 
of her elder sister. But Louisa's failing health soon after her marriage, 
and the long years of suffering which followed, prevented her ever doing 
justice to the expectations her friends had formed for her. 

The occasion of my next visit to Portland was a letter from Mrs. Payson 
to my mother, who was her constant correspondent, in v/hich she spoke 
sadly of an indisposition she feared was the precursor of serious illness, 
but which chiefly troubled her on account of Lizzy's distress that her 
school prevented her being constantly with her mother. An offer on my 
part to come and take her place, in her hours of necessary absence, was at 
once accepted. Mrs. Payson's illness proved less serious than had been 
feared, and once more I passed several pleasant weeks in that house; but 
the pleasantest hours of the day were those in which Lizzy, returning from 
school, sat down at her mother's bedside and amused her with !icr talk 
2 



,g Tin: LIFE OF MRS. PRENTlbb. 

about her pupils, their various characters and the progress they had made 
in their studies, or related little incidents of the school-room-w.th her 
usual frankness not omitting those which revealed some fault or what she 
considered such, on her part, especially her impulsiveness that led her often 
to say things she afterward regretted. As an example, one of her pupils 
was reading French to her and coming to the expression Mon Dieu! so 
common in French narratives, had pronounced it so badly that Lizzy ex- 
claimed, " Mon Doo ? He would not know himself what you meant ! " 
The laiigh which it was impossible to repress, did not diminish her com- 
punction'' at what she feared her pupils would regard as irreverence on her 
part. I believe I always cherished sufficient affection for my teachers, and 
yet I was not a little astonished on accompanying Lizzy to school one day. 
to see as we turned the corner of a street a rush of girls with unbonneted 
heads, to greet their young teacher for whom they had been watching, and 
escort her to her throne in the school-room, and evidently in their hearts. 
For a year or two after this visit I have no recollection of her, or indeed 
of any of the Payson family. Death, meanwhile, had been busy in my own 
home, and my memory is a blank for anything beyond that sad circle. 

Since that' date you have known her better than L I wish that these 
recollections of a time when I knew her better than you, were not so 
meagre. If we were not thousands of miles apart, and I could talk with 
you. instead of writing to you. perhaps they would not appear quite so un- 
satisfying. Yet, trivial as they are, I send them, in the persuasion that any 
trifle that concerned her or hers is of interest to you. 
r.ENF.VA, Switzerland, Feb. i, 1879. 



III. 

KecoUeclii.ns of i:iiz.ihi.-il»'s Girlhood by an early IVieiul and Schoolmate. Ilcr own 
Picture of ll.-nself before her Tather's Death. Favorite Resorts. Why God permits 
so much Su(ferint:. Literary Tastes. Letters. "What are Little Babies For?" 
Opens a Schcx)l. Religious Interest. 

It is to be rc<(rcttcd tli;it the letters referred to by Miss 
Willis, and indeed nearly all of Elizabeth's fanaily letters, 
written before she left her mother's roof, have disappeared. 
Ihit the following recollections by Mrs. M. C. H. Clark, of 
Portland, will in part supply their place and serve to fill up 
the outline, already given, of the first twenty years of her life. 

In the volume of sketches entitled, " Only a Dandelion," you will find, in 
ihc story of Anna and Kmily, some very pleasing incidents relating to the 



THE CHILD AND THE CxTRL. ig 

early life of dear Elizabeth. Anna was Lizzy Wood, her earliest playmate 
and friend. Miss Wood was a sweet girl, the only sister of Dr. William 
Wood, of Portland. She died at an early age. Emily was Mrs. Prentiss 
herself. I remember her once telling me about the visit at " Aunt W\'s/ 
and believe that nearly all the details of the story are founded in fact. It 
is her own picture of herself as a little girl, drawn to the life. Several 
traits of the character of Emily, as given in the sketch, are on this account 
worthy of special note. One is her very intense desire not only to be loved, 
but to be loved alone, or much more than any one else ; and to be assured 
of it "over and over again." When Anna returned from her journey, she 
brought the same presents to Susan Morton as to Emily. On discovering 
this fact Emily was greatly distressed. 

" I thought you would be so glad to get all these things ! " said Anna. 

" And so I am," said Emily," I only want you to love me better than any 
other little girl, because I love you better." 

" Well, and so I do," returned Anna ; " I love you ten times as well as I 
love Susan Morton." 

This satisfied Emily, and " for many days her restless little heart was as 
quiet and happy as a lamb's." 

Another trait is brought out in the incident that occurred on her return- 
ing home from Anna's. She had written, or rather scratched, the word 
" Anna," over one whole side of her room, while odd lines of what pur- 
ported to be poetry filled the other. 

But this was not all. Her sister produced the beautiful Bible which had been given 
Emily by her Aunt Lucy, on her seventh birthday, and showed her father how all its 
blank leaves were covered with Annas. Her father took the book with reverence, and 
Emily understood and felt the seriousness with which he examined her idle scra^^•ls. It 
was a look that would have risen up before her and made her stay her hand, should she 
ever again in her life-long have been tempted thus to misuse the word of God ; just as 
the angel stood before Balaam in the narrow path he was struggling to push through. 
But Emily never again was thus tempted ; and ever after her Bible was sacredly kept 
free from "blot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." 

Her father now took her with him to his study, and gave her a great many pieces of 
paper, some large and some small, on which he told her with a smile, she could write 
Anna's name to her heart's content. Emily felt very grateful ; this little kindness on her 
father's part did her more good than a month's lecture could have done, and made her 
resolve never to do anything that could possibly grieve him again. She went away lo 
her own little baby-house and wrote on one of the bits of paper, some verses, in which 
she said she had the best father in the world. When they were done, she read them 
over once or twice, and admired them exxeedingly ; after which, with a very mysterious 
air, she went and threw them into the kitchen fire. 

This incident, so prettily related, illustrates the intensity of her friend 
ships, shows that she had begun to write verses when a mere child, and 
gives a very pleasant glimpse of her father and of her devotion to him. 

My intimate acquaintance with her commenced in 1832, when we were 
members of Miss Tyler's Sabbath-school class. Miss Tyler was a daughtci 



20 THE LIFE OF MRS. TRENTISS. 

of Rev. Dr. Bennett Tyler, her father's successor. She was greatly pleased 
when I told her I was going to attend her sister's school, which was opened 
in the spring of 1833, on the corner of Middle and Lime streets. My seat 
was next to hers and we were placed in the same classes. Our homes 
ivere near each other on Franklin street, and we always walked back and 
foith together. She was at this time a prolific writer of notes. Sometimes 
si\e would meet me on Monday morning with not less than four, written 
since we had parted on Saturday afternoon. She used to complain now 
and then, that I wrote her only one to four or five of hers to me. In the 
pleasant summer afternoons we loved to take long walks together. One 
was down by the shore behind the eastern promenade. Here we would 
find a sheltered nook, and with our backs to the world and our faces toward 
the islands and the ocean, would sit in "rapt enjoyment " of the scene, 
speaking scarcely a word, until one or the other exclaimed with a long- 
drawn sigh : " Well, it is time for us to go home." 

Another of our places of resort was the old cemetery on Congress street, 
which in those days was very retired. Our favorite spot here was the sum- 
mit of a tomb, which stood on the highest point in the grounds. It was 
the old style of tomb — a broad marble slab, supported by six small stone 
pillars on a stone foundation, and surrov.nded by two steps raised above 
the soil. It was a very quiet retreat. We could hear the distant hum of 
the city and at the same time enjoy a view of the water and shipping, as 
the land sloped down toward the harbor. I remember well that one dark 
spring day, as w^e sat there cuddled up under the broad slab, Lizzy gave 
me an account of a book she had just been reading. It was the Memoir 
of Miss Susanna Anthony, by old Dr. Hopkins, of Newport. She told me 
what a good and holy woman Miss Anthony was, how much she suffered 
and how beautifully she bore her sufferings. My sympathy was strongly 
excited and I exclaimed, " I do not see how it is right for God, who can 
control all things, to permit such suffering ! " Lizzy replied very sweetly, 
" Well, Carrie, we can't understand it, but I have been thinking that this 
might be God's way of preparing His children for very high degrees of 
service on earth, or happiness in heaven." I was deeply impressed with 
this remark ; somehow it seemed to stand by me, and 1 think it was a 
corner-stone of her faith. 

This summer — that of 1S33 — her mother fitted up for her exclusive 
use a small room called the " Blue Room," where she had all her books 
and treasures— among them a wailing desk which had been her father's. 
Here all her leisure hours were spent. It was my privilege to be ad- 
milted to this sanctuury, and many pleasant hours we passed together 
there, I think Elizabeth was always religious. She knew a great deal 
then about tl e Bible and often talked with me of divine things. She 
Reemed to feel a deep interest in my spiritual welfare. She loved to share 
ivith me her favorite books. To her I was indebted for my acquamtance 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 21 

n'ith Georg-e Herbert, and with Wordsworth. She induced me to read 
"Owen on the 133d Psahn," and Flavel's "Fountain of Life." In 1834 wi 
both began to attend the Free street Seminary, of which the Rev. Solomon 
Adams was then Principal. Her sister had become assistant teacher with 
him. Our desks adjoined each other and we were together a great deal. 
She was an admirable scholar, very studious, prompt and ready at recita- 
tion. Her influence and example, added to her friendship and sympathy^ 
were invaluable to me at this period. One day, about this time, she told 
nie of her engagement with Mr. Willis, to become a contributor to " The 
Youth's Companion." This paper was one of the first, if not the first, of 
its class published in this country, and had a wide circulation among the 
children throughout New England. Most of the pieces in " Only a Dan- 
delion," first appeared, I think, in the "Youth's Companion," among the 
rest several in verse. They are written in a sprightly style, are full of bright 
fancies as well as sound feeling and excellent sense, and foretoken plainly 
the author of the ' Susy ' books. 

In 1835 Lizzy went to Ipswich and spent the summer in the school there. 
It was then under the care of Miss Grant, and was the most noted institution 
of its kind in New England. A year or two later, Mr. N. P. WilHs returned 
from Europe, and with his English bride made a short visit at Mrs. Payson's. 
Miss Payson talked with him of Elizabeth's taste for writing poetry and 
showed him some of her pieces. He praised and encouraged her warmly, 
and this was, I think, one of the influences that strengthened her in the 
purpose to become an author. Upon my telling her one day how much I 
liked a certain Sunday-school book I had just read, she smilingly asked, 
" What would you think if some day I should write a book as good as 
that } " 

I saw a good deal of her home life at this time. It was full of filial and 
sisterly love and devotion. Amidst the household cares by which her 
mother was often weighed down and worried, she was an ever-near friend 
and sympathizer. To her brothers, too, she endeared herself exceedingly 
by her helpful, cheery ways and the strong vein of fun and mirthfulness 
which ran through her daily life. 

In the spring of 1837 Mrs. Payson sold her house on Franklin street and 
rented one in the upper part of the city. Lizzy used to call it " the pumpkin 
house," because it was old and ugly ; but its situation and the opportunity 
to indulge her rural tastes made amends for all its defects. In a letter to 
her friend Miss E. T. of Brooklyn, N. Y., dated May 21, 1837, she thus 
refers to it : 

Since your last letter arrived we have left our pleasant home for an old yellow one 
above John NerJ's. Now don't imagine it to be a delicate straw-color, neither the smiling 
hue of the eaily dandelion. No, it once shone forth in all the glories of a deep purap- 
kin ; but time's " effacing fingers " have sadly marred its beauty. Mr. Neal's Aunt Ruth 
a quiet old Quakeress, occupies a part of it and we Paysons bestow ourselves in the re- 
mainder. This comes to you from its great garret. Here I sit every night tiU after dark 



23 THE LIFE OF MRS. TRKXTISS. 

as merT>- as a cn'e. " The mind is its own place." With all the inconveniencie? of the. 
house I would not cxchanjre it at present for any other in the city. The situation is per- 
fectly dcli[.'htful. Casco Bay and part of Deering's Oaks lie in full view.^ The Oaks 
arc within'a few minutes' walk. Back-Cove is seen beyond, and rising far above the 
dJuf While Mountains. The Arsenal stares us in the face, if we look out the end win- 
dows and the Westbrook meeting-house is nearer than Mr. Vail's by a quarter of a mile. 
I never believed there was anything half so fine in this region. I tliink nothing of walk- 
Jnc anywhere now. One day, after various domestic duties, I worked in my tiny garden 
four hours, and in the afternoon a party of girls came up for me to go with them to 
Branilull's hill. We walked from three till half past six, came back and ate a hasty, 
with some of us a furious supper, and then all paraded down to second parish to sing- 
ing-school. I expect to live out in the air most of the summer. I mean to have as 
pleasant a one as possible, because we shall never live so near the Oaks and other pretty 
places another summer. If you were not so timid I should wish you were here to run 
about with me, but who ever heard of E. T. running? Now, Ellen, I never was ineant 
to be dignified and sometimes — yea, often — I run, skip, hop, and once I did climb over a 
fence I Very unladylike, I know, but I am not a lady. 

In the fall of 1S37 Mrs. Payson moved again. The incident deserves 
mention, as it brought Lizzy into daily intercourse with the Rev. Mr. 
French and his wife. Mr. French was rector of the Episcopal church in 
Portland, and afterward Professor and Chaplain at West Point. He was a 
man of firTe literary culture and Mrs. French was a very attractive woman. 
In a letter dated "Night before Thanksgiving," and addressed to the early 
friend already mentioned, Lizzy refers to this removal and also gives a 
glimpse of her active home life : 

I have been busy all day and am so tired I can scarcely hold a pen. Amidst the beat- 
ing of eggs, the pounding of spices, the furious rolling of pastry of all degrees of short- 
ness, the filling of pies with pumpkins, mince-mcat, apples, and the like, the stoning of 
raisins and washing of currants, the beating and baking of cake, and all the other iiigSy 
(in all of which I have had my share) thoughts of your ladyship have somehow squeezed 
Ihcmsclvcs in. We have really bidden adieu to " Pumpkin Place," as Mrs. Willis calls 
h, and established ourselves in a house formerly occupied by old Parson Smith— and 
»ery snug and comfortable we are, I assure you. 

In the midst of our " moving," after I had packed and stov/ed and lifted, and been 
elbowed by all the sharp comers in the house, and had my hands all torn and scratched, 
I spied the new •• Knickerlxjcker" 'mid a heap of rubbish and v/as tempted to peep into 
k. I^ and bcholfl, ijjc first thing that met my eye was the Lament of the Last Peach.' 
I didn't care 13 read more and forthwith returned to fitting of carpets and arranging 
» I can see the breezy dome of groves, 
The sharlows of Decring's Woods ; 
And the fricndsliips old and the early loves 
Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves 
In quiet neiphborh(KKls. 
And the verse of that sweet old song, 
It flutters .ind murmurs still : 
•' A l)oy's will is the wind's will, 
A' I •».- thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.;" 

— LONGKKLLOW'S My Lost Youth. 
•"The I-v:u:,t ,., u,c Ust Poach "had boon written by her a year before when in 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 



■3 



tables and chairs and bureaus — but all the while meditating how I should be revenged 

upon you. As t > 's request I am sorry to answer nay ; for I feel it would be the 

greatest presumption in me to think of writing for a magazine hke that. I do not wish 
to publish anything, anywhere, though it would be quite as wise as to entrust my scraps 
to your care. My mother often urges me to send little things which she happens to 
fancy, to this and that periodical. Without her interference nothing of mine would evei 
have found its way into print. But mammas look with rose-colored spectacles on the 
actions and performances of their offspring. Have you laughed over the Pickwick 
Papers ? We have almost laughed ourselves to death over them. I have not seen Lirzy 
D. for a long time, but hear she is getting along rapidly. If I could go to school two 

years more, I should be glad, but of course that is out of the question It is easier 

for you to write often than it is for me. You have not three tearing, growing brothers 
to mend and make for. I am become quite expert in the arts of patching and darning. 
I am going to get some pies and cake and raisins and other goodies to send to our girl's 
sick brother. If I had not so dear and happy a home, I should envy you yours. You say 
you do not remember whether I love music or not. I love it extravagantly sometimes — 
out have not the knowledge to enjoy scientific performances. The simple melody of a 
single voice is my delight. Mrs. French, the Episcopal minister's wife, who is a great 
friend of ours and lives next door (so near that she and sister talk togetlier out of their 
windows), has a baby two days old with black curly hair and black eyes, and I shall have 
nice time with it this winter. Do you love babies ? 

The question with which this letter closes, suggests one of Lizzy's most 

Brooklyn, and her friend's brother had sent it to '* The Knickerbocker," the populai 
Magazine of that day. Here it is : 

LAMENT OF THE LAST PEACH. 
In solemn silence here I live, 

A lone, deserted peach ; 
So high that none but birds and winds 

My quiet bough can reach. 
And mournfully, and hopelessly, 

I think upon the past ; 
Upon my dear departed friends. 

And I, the last— the last. 

My friends ! oh, daily one by one 

I've seen them drop away ; 
Unheeding all the tears and prayers 

That vainly bade them stay. 
And here I hang alone, alone — 

While life is Heeing fast ; 
And sadly sigli that I am left 

The last, the last, the last. 

Farewell, then, thou my little world 

My home upon tlie tree, 
A sweet retreat, a quiet home 

Thou mayst no longer be ; 
The willow trees stand weeping nigh. 

The sky is overcast. 
The autumn winds moan sadly by, 

And say, the last — the last I 



^^ THE LIFE OF MRS. FRENTTSS. 

slrikm.ir and loveliest traits. She had a perfect passion for babies, and 
reveled in tending, kissing, and playing with them. Here are some pretty 
lines in one of her girlish contributions to " The Youth's Companion," which 
express her feeling about them : 

WHiat are little babies for ? Can they walk upon their feet ? 

Say I say ! say I Say ! say ! say 1 

Are they good-for-nothing things ? Can they even hold themselves ? 

Nay nay ! nay ! Nay ! nay ! nay ! 

Can they speak a single word ? What are little babies for ? 

Say ! say ! say ! Say ! say ! say ! 

Can they help their mothers sew ? Are they made for us to love ? 

Nay ! nay ! nay 1 y^a! Yea ! ! YEA ! ! ! 

In the fall of 1838 Mrs. Payson purchased a house in Cumberland street, 
whicii continued to be her residence until the family was broken up. You 
remember the charming little room Lizzy had fitted up over the hall in this 
house, how nicely she kept it. and how happy she w^as in it. One of the 
\^ indows looked out on a little flower garden and at the close of the long 
summer days the sunset could be enjoyed from the west window. She had 
had some tine books given her, which, added to the previous store, made a 
somewhat rare collection for a young girl in tho-e days. 

About this time, having been relieved of her part of domestic service by 
the coming into the family of a young relative — whose devotion to her was 
unbounded — she opened in the house a school for little girls. It consisted 
at first of perhaps eight or ten, but their number increased until the house 
could scarcely hold them. She was a born teacher and her young pupils 
fairly idolized her.' In this year, too, she took a class in the Sabbath- 
school composed of nearly the same group who surrounded her on the 
week-days, and tlicy remained under her care as long as she lived in 
Portland. 

The Rev. Mr. Vail having retired from the pastorate of the second 
parish in the autumn of 1837, Cyrus Hamhn, just from the Theological 
.Seminary at IJangor. became the stated supply for some months. His 
prc.nching attracted the young people and during tlie winter and spring 
ihcrc was much interest in all the Congregational churches. Following 
I he example of the other pastors, Mr. Hamlin invited persons seriously dis- 
pciscil to nu-rt him for religious conversation. Elizabeth besought me, 
with all possible earnestness and alTection, to "go to Mr. Hamlin's meeting." 
( )nc day she came to sec me a short time before the hour, saying that I 
was ever on her mind and in her prayers, that she had talked with Mr. 
Hamlin al>out mc, nor would she leave me until I had promised to attend 
the mcelinjr. 1 did so ; and from that time we were united in the strong 
jonds of Christian love and sympathy. What a spiritual helper she was 

• •• I>ar Liizy is in her little sc1uk»1. I ler pupils love her dearly. She will have about 
Ih.rly in Ihc summer.*— z:«.//^r 0/ Mrs. Payson, Match 2S, 1S39. 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 2$ 

to me in those days ! What precious notes I was all the time receiving 
from her! The memory of her tender, faithful friendship is still fresh and 
delightful, after the lapse of more than forty years.' 

In the summer of 1838 the Rev. Jonathan B. Condit, D.D., was calico 
from his chair in Amherst College and installed pastor of our church. He 
was a man of very graceful and winning manners and wonderfully mng- 
netic. He at once became almost an object of worship with the enthu- 
siastic young people. The services of the Sabbath and the weekly meetings 
were delightful. The young ladies had a praying circle which met every 
Saturday afternoon, full of life and sunshine. Indeed, the exclusive inter- 
est of the season was religious ; our reading and conversation were relig- 
ious ; well-nigh the sole subject of thought was learning something new of 
our Saviour and His blessed service. All Lizzy's friends and several of 
her own family were rejoicing in hope. And she herself was radiant with 
joy. For a little while it seemed almost as if the shadows in the Christian 
path had fled away, and the crosses vanished out of sight. The winter 
and spring of 1840 witnessed another period of general religious interest 
in Portland. Large numbers were gathered into the churches. Lizzy was 
greatly impressed by the work, her own Christian life was deepened and 
widened, she was blessed in guiding several members of her beloved Sun- 
day-school class to the Saviour, and was thus prepared, also, for the sharp 
trial awaiting her in the autumn of the same year, when she left her home 
and mother for a long absence in Richmond. 

From her earliest years she was in the habit of keeping a journal, and 
she must have filled several volumes. I wonder that she did not preserve 
them as mementos of her childhood and youth. Perhaps because her after- 
life was so. happy that she never needed to refer to such reminiscences of 
days gone by. 

I have thus given you, in a very informal manner, some recollections of 
her earlier years. I have been astonished to find how vividly I recalled 
scenes, events and conversations so long past. I was startled and shocked 
when the news came of her sudden death. But I can not feel that she was 
called to her rest too soon. She seemed to me singularly happy in all the 
relations of life ; and then as an author, hers was an exceptional case ol 
full appreciation and success. I have ever regarded her as " fovored among 
women" — blessed in doing her Master's will and testifying for Him, blessed 
in her home, in her friends, and in her work, and blessed in her death. 

Portland, December 31, 1878. 

» Three years later Elizabeth thus referred to this period in the life of her friend :— 
•' During the time in which she was seeking the Saviour with all her heart, I was much 
with her and had an opportunity to see every variety of feeling as she daily set the whole 
before me. The affection thus acquired is, I believe, never lost. If I live forever, I shall 
not lose the impressions which I then received— the deep anxiety I felt lest she should 
finally come short of salvation, and tlien the happiness of having her lost in contempla- 
tion of the character of Him whom she had so often declared it impossible to love." 



26 TIN- LHF. OF MRS. PRENTISS. 



IV. 

Hic Dnmin.-int Tj-pc of Religious Life and Thoup:lit in New England in the First Hall 
of this Centuiy. Literary Influences. Letter of Cyrus Hamlin. A Strange Coin- 
cidence. 

A IJRIKF notice of the general type of religious life and 
thought, which prevailed at this time in New England, will 
throw light upon both the preceding and following pages. 
Elizabeth's early Christian character, although largely shaped 
by that of her father, was also, like his, vitally affected by the 
religious spirit and methods then dominant. Several distinct 
elements entered into the piety of New^ England at that 
period, (i.) There was, first of all, the old Puritan element 
which the Pilgrim Fathers and their immediate successors 
brought witii them from the mother-country, and which had 
been nourished by the writings of the great Puritan divines 
of the seventeenth century — such as Baxter, Howe, Bunyan, 
Owen, Matthew Menry, and Flavcl — by the '' Imitation of 
Christ," and Bishop Taylor's " Holy Living and Dying," and 
by such writers as Doddridge, Watts, and Jonathan Edwards 
of I lie last century. This lay at the foundation of the whole 
structure, giving it strength, solidity, earnestness, and power. 
(2.) But it was modified by the so-called Evangelical element, 
which marked large sections of the Church of England and 
most of tlie Dissenting bodies in Great Britain during the last 
half of the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth 
ccntur>'. The writings of Jolm Newton, Richard Cecil, Han- 
nah More, Thomas Scott, Cowper, Wilberforce, Leigh Rich- 
mond. John Foster, Andrew Fuller, and Robert Hall— not to 
mention others— were widely circulated in New England and 
had };reat influence in its pulpits and its Christian homes. 
Their admirable spirit infused itself into thousands of lives, 
and helped in many ways to improve the general tone both of 
theological and devotional sentiment. (3.) But another ele- 
ment still was the new Evangelistic spirit, which inaugurated 
nnd still informs those great movements of Christian benevo- 
ience, both at home and abroad, that are the glory of the age. 



THE CHILD AND THE CTRL. 2; 

Dr. Payson's ministiy began just before the formation of the 
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and 
before his death mission-work had come to be regarded as 
quite essential to the piety and prosperity of the Church. The 
Lives of David Brainerd, Henry Martyn, Harriet Newell, and 
others like them, were household books. (4.) Nor should llie 
" revival " element be omitted in enumerating the forces thai 
then shaped the piety and religious thought of New England. 
The growth of the Church and the advancement of the cause 
of Christ were regarded as inseparable from this influence. A 
revival was the constant object of prayer and effort on the 
part of earnest pastors and of the more devout among the 
people. Far more stress was laid upon special seasons and 
measures of spiritual interest and activity than now — less 
upon Christian nurture as a means of grace, and upon the 
steady, normal development of church life. Many of the 
most eminent, devoted, and useful servants of Christ, whose 
names, during the last half century, have adorned the annals 
of American faith and zeal, owed their conversion, or, if not 
their conversion, some of their noblest and strongest Christian 
impulses, to "revivals of religion." (5.) To all these should, 
perhaps, be added another element — namely, that of the 
new spirit of reform and the new ethical tone, which, during 
the third and fourth decades of this century especially, 
wrought with such power in New England. Of this influence 
and of the philanthropic idea that inspired it, Dr. Channing 
may be regarded as the most eminent representative. It 
brought to the front the humanity and moral teaching of 
Christ, as at once the pattern and rule of all true progress, 
whether individual or social; and it was widely felt, even 
where it was not distinctly recognised or understood. What^ 
ever errors or imperfections may have belonged to it, this in- 
fluence did much to soften the dogmatism of opinion, to 
arouse a more generous, catholic type of sentiment, to show 
that the piety of the New Testament is a principle of universal 
love to man, as well as of love to God, and to emphasise the 
sovereign claims of personal virtue and social justice. These 
truths, to be sure, were not new; but in the great moral- 



28 'II IK i.iri: ov mks. prentiss. 

reform niDvcmciits and conflicts— to a certain extent even i' 
ihcological discussions— that marked the times, they were as 
sorted and applied with extraordinary clearness and energy ol 
conviction ; and, as the event has proved, they were harbinger-j 
of a new era of Christian thought, culture and conduct, both 
in private and public life. 

Such were some of the religious influences which surrounded 
Mrs. Prentiss during the first twenty years of her life, and 
which lielpcd to form her character. She was also strongly 
affected, especially while passing from girlhood into early 
womanhood, by the Hterary influences of the day. Poetry 
and fiction were her delight. She was very fond of Words- 
worth, Temiyson, and Longfellow; while the successive vol- 
umes of Dickens were read by her with the utmost avidity. 
Mrs. l*ayson's house was a good deal visited by scholars and 
men of culture. Her eldest daughter had already become 
somewhat widely known by her writings. In the extent, 
variety and character of her attainments she was, in truth, a 
marvel. Indeed, she quite overshadowed the younger sister 
by her learning and her highly intellectual conversation. And 
yet Elizabeth also attracted no little attention from some 
who had been first drawn to the house by their friendship for 
Louisa.' Among her warmest admirers was Mr. John Neal, 
tiicn well known as a nian of letters; he predicted for her a 
bright career as an author. Still, it was her personal character 
that most interested the visitors at her mother's house. This 
may be illustrated by an extract from a letter of Mr. Hamlin 
to a friend of the family in New York, written in April, 1838, 
while he was their temporary pastor. Mr. Hamlin has since 
become known throughout the Christian world by his remaik- 
ablc career as a missionary in Turkey, and as organiser of 
Robert College. A few months after the letter was written 
he .set sail for Constantinople, accompanied by his wife, whose 

' Old friends of her fall,cr also became much interested in her. Amon- them v.os 
S. n..M Crecnlc.if. the cniincnl writer on the law of evidence, and Jud^re Story's successor 
•l Harvard. On removing to Cambridge, in 1833, be gave her vith his autograpli a Ut- 
ile volnmc entitled, •• Hours for Heaven ; a small but clioice selection of prayers, from 
eminent D.v.nc^ of U.e Church of England," which long continued to be one cf he, 
t»>ok!> ol dcvoUua. 



THE CHILD AND THE GIRL. 29 

early death was the cause of so much grief among all who 
knew her.' 

I should like to write a long letter about clear Elizabeth. I have seen 
lier more since Louisa left and 1 love her more. She has a peculiar charn. 
for me. I think she has a quick and excellent judgment, refined senrihll- 

itics, and an ijistinctivc perception of what is fit and proper It 

seems to me there is a great deal of purity— of the spiyitiiclle — about her 
feelings. But I can not tell you exactly what it is that makes me think so 
highly of her. It is a nameless something resulting from her whole self, 
from her sweet face and mouth, her eye full of love and soul, her form and 
motion. I do not think she likes me much, 1 have paid so much attention 
to Louisa and so little to herself. Yet she is not one of those who claim 
attention, but rather shrinks from it. She may have faults of which 1 have 
no knowledge. But I am charmed with everything I have seen of her. 

How strange are the chance coincidences of human life ! 
In another letter to the same friend in New York, in which 
Mr. Hamlin refers in a similar manner to Elizabeth, occur 
these words : 

In a few weeks I hope to be in Dorset, among the Green Mountains, 
where my thoughts and feelings have their centre above all places on this 
eardi. 1 wish you could be present at my wedding there on the third of 
September. 

How little did he dream, when penning these words, or did 
his friend dream while reading them, that, after the lapse of 
more than forty years, the '' dear Elizabeth " would find her 
grave near by the old parsonage in which that wedding was 
to be celebrated, while the dust of the lovely daughter of 
Dorset would be sleeping on the distant shores of the Bos- 
phorus ! 

1 See the touching memorial of lier, " Light on the Dark River," prepared by he» 
sarly friend, Mrs. Lawrence. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 

1 840-1 841. 

I. 

A Memorable Experience. Letters to her Cousin. Goes to Richmond as a Teacler, 

Mr. Persico's School. Letters. 

Miss P.vvson was now in her twenty-first year, a period 
which she always looked back to as a turning-point in her 
spiritual history. The domestic influences that encompassed 
her childhood, her early associations, and the books of devo- 
tion which she read, all conspired to imbue her with an earnest 
sense of divine things, and while yet a young girl, as we have 
seen, she publicly devoted herself to the service of her God 
and Saviour. For several years her piety, if marked by no 
special features, was still regarded by her young friends, and 
by all who knew her, as of a decided character. But during the 
^'cneral religious interest in the winter of 1837-8, even while 
absorbed in solicitude for others, she began herself to question 
its reality. " l'(^r some months I had no hope that I was a 
Christian, and />nWi^ made me go on just as if I felt myself 
perfectly safe. Nothing could at that time have made me 
^villi^g to have any eye a witness to my daily struggles." 
And yet she "often longed for the sympathy and assistance 
of Christian friends," and to her unwillingness to confide in 
Ihcm she afterwards attributed much of the suffering that fol- 
lowed. •• I do not know exactl\- how I passed out of that 
8ca.son. but my school commenced in April, and I became so 
interested in it that 1 lud less time to tliink of and to watch 
myself. The next winter most of mv schol:u-s were deeply 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 3I 

impressed by divine things, and, of course, I could not look on 
without having my own heart touched. It was my privilege 
to spend many delightful weeks in watching the progress of 
minds earnestly seeking the way of life and early consecrat- 
ing themselves to their Saviour." ' But after a while a se- 
vere reaction set in and in the course of the summer she be- 
came careless in her religious habits, shrank from the Lord's 
table as a "place of absolute torture," and while spending a 
fortnight in Boston in the fall, entirely omitted all exercises of 
private devotion. 

She had now reached a crisis which was to decide her course 
for life. During the winter of 1839-40, she passed through 
very deep and harrowing exercises of soul. Her spiritual nat- 
ure was shaken to its foundation, and she could say with the 
Psalmist, Out of the depths have I cried imto Thee, O Lord. 
For several months she was in a state similar to that which 
the old divines depict so vividly as being " under conviction." 
Her sense of sin, and of her own unworthiness in the sight of 
God, grew more and more intense and oppressive. At times 
she abandoned all hope, accused herself of having played the 
hypocrite, and fancied she was given over to hardness of heart. 
At length she sought counsel of her pastor and confided to 
him her trouble, but he *' did not know exactly what to do 
with me." In the midst of her distress, and as its effect, no 
doubt, she was taken ill and confined to her room, where in 
solitude she passed several weeks seeking rest and finding 
none. " Sometimes I tried to pray, but this only increased 
my distress and made me cry out for annihilation to free 've 
from the agony which seemed insupportable." With a single 
interval of comparative indifference, this state of mind c^.n- 
tinued for nearly four months. She thus describes it : 

It was in vain that I sought the Lord in any of the lofty jialli- 
ways through which my heart wished to go. At last I found il 

^ She lefers to this, doubUess, in a note to Mr. Hamlin, dated March 28, 1839. Mr. 
H. was then in Constantinople. " It seems as if a letter to go so far ought to be a good 
one, so I am afraid to write to you. But we '■ tliink to yon' every day, and hope you 
think of us sometimes. I have been so happy all winter that I have some liappincii ic 
Epare, and if you need any you bhall have as much as you want." 



,3 TIIK lAVE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

impossible to carry on the struggle any longer alone. I would 
Klacllv liavc put mvself at the feet of a little child, if by so do- 
iuo- I'could have found peace. I felt so guilty and the charac- 
ter of God appeared so perfect in its purity and holiness, that 
I kncxv not which way to turn. The sin which distressed me 
most of all was the rejection of the Saviour. This haunted me 
constantly and made me fly first to one thing and then another, 
in the hope of finding somewhere the peace which I would not 
accept from Him. It was at this time that I kept reading over 
the first twelve chapters of Doddridge's " Rise and Progress,"— 
I he rest of the book I abhorred. So great was my agony that 
I can only wonder at the goodness of Him who held my life in 
His hands, and would not permit me in the height of my de- 
spair to throw myself away. 

It was in tills height of despair that thoughts of the infinite 
grace and love of Christ, which she says she had hitherto re- 
pelled, began to irradiate her soul. A sermon on His ability 
to iuive " unto the uttermost " deeply affected her.' "While 
listening to it my weary spirit rested itself, and I thought, 
Vsurcly it can not be wrong to think of the Saviour, although 
He is not mine.' With this conclusion I gave myself up to 
admire, to love and to praise Him, to wonder why I had never 
done so before, and to hope that all the great congregation 
around me were joining with mc in acknowledging Him to be 
chief among ten thousand and the One altogether lovely." On 
going home she could at first scarcely believe in her own ident- 
ity, the feeling of peace and love to God and to all the world 
was so unlike the turbulent emotions that had lone: a^ritated 
licr soul. ** From this time my mind went slowly onward, 
examining the way step by step, trembling and afraid, yet 
filled with a calm contentment which made all the dealings 
of God with mc appear just right. I know myself to be per- 
fectly liclpless. I can not promise to do or to be anything; 
but I do want to put everything else aside, and to devote 
myself entirely to the service of Christ." 

Her account of this memorable experience is dated August 
28, 1840. "While writing it," she adds, ''I have often laid 

' Tl>c sermon wa« n'cachcd by her pastor, the Rev. Dr. Condit, April 19th. 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 33 

aside my pen, to sit and think over in silent wonder the way 
in wliich the Lord has led me." 

How in later years she regarded certain features of this ex- 
perience, is not fully known. The record passed at once out 
of her hands, and until after her death was never seen by any- 
one, excepting the friend for whose eye it was written. Many 
of its details had, probably, faded entirely from her memory. 
It can not be doubted, however, that she would have judged 
her previous state much less severely, would hardly have 
charged it with hypocrisy, or denied that the Saviour had 
been graciously leading her, and that she had some real love 
to Him, before as well as after this crisis. So much may be 
inferred from the record itself and from the narrative in the 
preceding chapter. Her tender interest in the spiritual wel- 
fare of her friends and pupils, the high tone of religious senti- 
m.ent that marks her early writings, the books she delighted 
in, her filial devotion, the absolute sincerity of her character, 
all forbid any other conclusion.' The indications, too, are 
very plain that her morbidly-sensitive, melancholy tempera- 
ment had much to do with this experience. Her account of 
it shows, also, that her mind was unhappily affected by cer- 
tain false notions of the Christian life and ordinances then, and 
still, more or less prevalent — notions based upon a too narrow 
and legal conception of the Gospel. Hence, her shrinking 

' There is one thing I recall as showing the very early religious tendency of Lizzy's 
mind. It was a little prayer -meeting which she held with a few little friends, as long 
ago as her sister kept school in the large parlor of the house on Middle street, before the 
death of her father. It assembled at odd hours and in odd places. I also remember her 
interest in the spiritual welfare of her young companions, after the return of the family 
from their sojourn in New York. She showed this by accompanying some of us, in tlie 
way of encouragement, to Dr. Tyler's inquiry-meeting. Then during the special relig- 
ious interest of 1838, she felt still more deeply and entered heartily into the rejoicing of 
those of us who at that time found " peace in believing." The next year I accompanied 
my elder sister Susan to Richmond, and during my absence she gave up her Christian 
hope and passed through a season of great darkness and despondency, emerging, how- 
ever, into the light upon a higher plane of religious experience and enjoyment. She 
sometimes thought this the very beginning of the life of faith in her soul. Put as I 
used to say to her when the next year we were together at Richmond, it seemed to me 
quite impossible that any one who had not already received the grace of God, con/J 
hav- felt what she had felt and expressed. I do not doubt in the least that for years she 
had been a ti-ue follower of Christ.— Z<?//^r /rom MiiS Ann LouUa P. Lord, dated 
Portla7id, December 30, 1878. 

3 



34 Tin- LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

from the Lord's table as a place of " torture," instead of re- 
{Tardin^T it in its true character, as instituted on purpose to 
feed hungry souls, like her own, with bread from heaven. But 
for all that, the experience was a blessed reality and, as these 
pnc^es will attest, wrought a lasting change in her religious 
hfe. No doubt the Spirit of God was leading her through all 
ils dark and terrible mazes. It virtually ended a conflict 
which the intensely proud elements of her nature rendered 
inevitable, if she was to become a true heroine of faith — the 
conflict between her Master's will and her own. Her Master 
conquered, and henceforth to her dying hour His will was the 
sovereign law of her existence, and its sweetest joy also. 

The following extracts from letters to her cousin, George E. 
Shipman, of New York, now widely known as the founder of 
a Foundling Home at Chicago, will throw additional light 
upon her state of mind at this period. Mr. Shipman was the 
friend to whom the account of her experience already men- 
tioned was addressed. He had just spent several weeks in 
Portland, and to his Christian sympathy, kindness, and coun- 
sels while there and during the two following years, she felt 
herself very deeply indebted.^ 

Portland, August 22, 1840. 

I AM always wondering if any body in the world is the better 
off for my being in it. And so if I was of any comfort to you, I 
am very glad of it. I do want, I confess, the privilege of offer- 
ing you sometimes the wine and oil of consolation, and if I do 
it in such a way as to cause pain with my unskilful hand, why, 

you must forgive me Mr. talked to me as if he 

imagined nic a blue-stocking. Just because my sister wears 
.spectacles, folks take it for granted that I also am literary. 

^KK'- 25///. — You ask if I tind it easy to engage in religious 
meditation, referring in i)artieular to that on our final rest. This 
is another of my trials. I can not meditate upon anything, ex- 
cept indeed it be something (|uite the opposite of what I wish 
10 occu[)y my mind. You know tiiat some Christians are able 

» It may l>e proper to say hen-, that wliile but few of her letters are given entire, it has 
oot l»ccn deemed needful siiecially to indicate all the omissions. In some instances, also, 
whsre two letters, or passa-cs of letter-;. r-Uite to the same subject, they have been conv 
billed. 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 



3S 



in their solitary walks and rides to hold, all the time, commun- 
ion with God. I can very seldom do this. Yesterday I was 
obliged to take a long walk alone, and it was made very de- 
lightful in this way ; so that I quite forgot that I was aione. 
... I am beginning to feel, that I have enough to do with- 
out looking out for a great, wide place in which to work, and 
to appreciate the simple lines : 

"The trivial round, the common task, 
Would furnish all we ought to ask ; 
Room to deny ourselves ; a road 
To bring us daily nearer God." 

Those words " daily nearer God " have an inexpressible charm 
for me; I long for such nearness to Him that all other objects 
shall fade into comparative insignificance, — so that to have a 
thought, a wish, a pleasure apart from Him shall be impossible. 

Sej>^. \2tJi. — At Sabbath-school this morning, while talking 
with my scholars about the Lord Jesus, my heart, which 
is often so cold and so stupid, seemed completely melted 
within me, with such a view of His wonderful, wonderful love 
for sinners, that I almost belived I had never felt it till then. 
Such a blessing is worth toiling and wrestling for a whole life. 
If a glimpse of our Saviour here upon earth can be so refresh- 
ing, so delightful, what will it be in heaven ! 

Sept. i-]th. — I have been reading to-day some passages from 
Nevins' " Practical Thoughts." ' Perhaps you have seen tliem ; 
if so, do you remember two articles headed, '' I must pray 
more," and "1 must pray differently"? They interested me 
much because in some measure they express my own feelings. 
I have less and less confidence in frames., as they are called. I 
am glad that you think it better to have a few books and to 
read them over and over, for my own inclination leads me to 
that. One gets attached to them as to Christian friends. D(j 
not hesitate to direct me over and over again, to go with dilti- 
culties and temptations and sin to the Saviour. I love to l)e 
led there and left there. Sometimes when the exceeding " sin- 
fulness of sin " becomes painfully apparent, there is nothing; 
else for the soul to do but to lie in the dust before God, without 

' An excellent little work by Rev. William Nevins, D.D. Dr. Nevins was pastor o/ 
the first Presbyterian Cluirch in Baltimore, where he died in iSj5. at the age of thirty 
Beven. Me was one of the best preachers and most popular relij^ioas wiitors of his day. 



^6 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

a word of excuse, and that feeling of abasement in His sight is 

worth more than all the pleasures in the world You will 

believe me if I own myself tired, when I tell you that I made, 
fourteen calls this afternoon. But even the unpleasant busi- 
ness of call-making has had one comfort. Some of the friends 
of whom I took leave, spoke so tenderly of Him whose name is 
so precious to His children that my heart warmed towards 
them instantly, and I thought it worth while to have parting 
hDurs, sad though they may be, if with them cam*, so naturally 
thoughts of the Saviour. Besides, I have been thinking since 
I came home, that if I did not love Him, it could not be so re- 
freshing to hear unexpectedly of Him I did not know 

that mother had anything to do with your father's conversion, 
and when I mentioned it to her she seemed much surprised 
and said she did not know it herself. Pray tell me more of it, 
will you ? I have felt that if, in the course of my life, I should 
be the means of leading one soul to the Saviour, it would be 
worth staying in this world for no matter how many years. 

Did you ever read Miss Taylor's " Display " ? Sister says the 
character of Emily there is like mine. I think so myself save 
in the best point. 

We come now to an important change In her outward life. 
She had accepted an invitation to become a teacher in Mr. 
Persico's school at Richmond, Virginia. Mr. Persico was an 
Italian, a brother of the sculptor of that name, a number of 
whose works are seen at Washington. He early became in- 
terested in our institutions, and as soon as he was able, came 
to this country and settled in Philadelphia as an artist. He 
married a lady of that city, and afterward on account of her 
health went to Richmond, wdiere he opened a boarding and day 
school for girls. There were four separate departments, one 
of which was under the sole care of Miss Payson. Her let- 
ters to her family, written at this time, have all been lost, but 
\ full record of the larger portion of her Richmond life is 
preserved in letters to her cousin, Mr. Shipman. The follow- 
ing extracts from these letters show with what zeal she de- 
voted herself to her new calling and how absorbed her heart 
was still in the things of God. They also throw light upon 
some marked features of her character. 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 37 

Boston, Septemht y 23. 
I had, after leaving home, an attack of that terrible pain, of 
which I have told you, and believed myself very near death. 
Et became a serious question whether, if God should so plea?e| 
I could feel willing to die there alone, for I was among entire 
strangers. I never enjoyed more of His presence than that 
night when, sick and sad and full of pain, I felt it sweet to put 
myself in His hands to be disposed of in His own way. 

The attack referred to in this letter resembled angina pec. 
toris, a disease to which for many years she was led to con- 
sider herself liable. Whatever it may have been, its effect 
was excruciating. - Mother was telling me the other day," 
she wrote to a friend, '' that in her long life she had never 
seen an individual suffer more severe bodily pain than she 
had often tried to relieve in me. I remember scores of such 
hours of real agony." In the present instance the attack was 
doubtless brought on, in part at least, by mental agitation. 
'' No words," she wrote a few months later, '' can describe the 
anguish of my mind the night I left home ; it seemed to me 
that all the agony I had ever passed through was condensed 
into a small space, and I certainly believe that I should die, 
if left to a higher degree of such pain." 

Richmond, September 2,0, 1S40 
About twelve o'clock, when it was as dark as pitch, we were 
all ordered to prepare for a short walk. In single file then out 
we went. It seems that a bridge had been burned lately, and 
so we were all to go round on foot to another train of cars. 
There were dozens of bright, crackling bonfires lighted at 
short intervals all along, and as we wound down narrow, steep 
and rocky pathways, then up steps which had been rudely cut 
out in the side of the elevated ground, and as far as we could 
see before us could watch the long line of moving figures in 
all varieties of form and color, my spirits rose to the very tip- 
top of enjoyment. I wished you could have a picture of the 
whole scene, which, though one of real life, was to me at least 
exceedingly beautiful. We reached Richmond at one o'clock 

Mr. Persico was waiting for us and received us cordially 

iVhen I awoke at eight o'clock, I felt forlorn enough. Imagine, 



-S TH!" 1 IKK OK MRS. PRENTISS. 

if you can, the room in which I opened my eyes. It is in the 
attic, is very low and has two windows. My first thought was 
" t never can be happy in this miserable hole ; " but in a second 
this wicked feeling took flight, and I reproached myself for 
my ingratitude to Him who had preserved me through all my 
joiirney, had made much of it so delightful and profitable, and 
who still promised to be with me. 

Oct. 2. I will try to give you some account of our doings, al- 
though we are not fully settled. We have risen at six so far, but 
intend to be up by five if we can wake. As soon as we are 
dressed I take my Bible out into the entry, where is a window 
and a quiet corner, and read and think until Louisa' is ready 
to give me our room and take my place. At nine we go into 
school, where Miss Lord ' reads a prayer, and from that hour 
until twelve we are engaged with our respective classes. At 
twelve we have a recess of thirty minutes. This over, we re- 
turn again to school, where we stay until three, when we are 
to dine. All day Saturday we are free. This time we are to 
have Monday, too, as a special holiday, because of a great Whig 
convention which is turning the city upside-down. There is 
one pleasant thing, pleasant to me at least, of which I want to 
tell you. As Mr. Persico is not a religious man, I supposed 
we should have no blessing at the table, and was afraid I 
should get into the habit of failing to acknowledge God there. 
But I was much affected when, on going to dine the first day I 
came, he stood leaning silently and reverentially over his chair, 
as if to allow all of us time for that quiet lifting up of the 
heart which is ever acceptable in the sight of God. It is very 
impressive. Miss Lord reads prayers at night, and when Mrs. 
Persico comes home we are to have singing 

That passage in the 119th Psalm, of which you speak, is 
indeed delightful. I will tell you what were some of my medi- 
tations on it. I thought to myself that if God continued His 
fjithfulness toward me, I shall have afflictions such as I now 
know nothing more of than the name, for I need them co/i- 
stantly. I have trembled ever since I came here at the host of 
now dilficultics to which I am exposed. Surely I did again 
and again ask God to decide the question for me as to whether 

' Miss Ann Louisa P. Lord. a T^Iiss Susan Lord. 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 35 

f should leave home or not, and believed that He had chosen 
for me. It certainly was against my own inclinations 

Oct. \2th. — This morning I had a new scholar, a pale, thin 
little girl who stammers, and when I spoke to her, and she was 
obliged to answer, the color spread over her face and neck as 
if she suffered the utmost mortification. I was glad when re- 
cess came, to draw her close to my side and to tell her that I 
had a friend afflicted in the same way, and that consequently, 
I should know how to understand and pity her. She held my 
hand fast in hers and the tears came stealing down one after 
another, as she leaned confidingly upon my shoulder, and I 
could not help crying too, with mingled feelings of gratitude 
and sorrow. Certainly it will be delightful to soothe and to 

console this poor little thing You do not like poetry and 

I have spent the best part of my life in reading or trying to 
write it. N. P. Willis told me some years ago, that if my hus- 
band had a soul, he would love me for the poetical in m.e, and 
advised me to save it for him. 

Oct. 2']fh. — Sometimes when I feel almost sure that the Sav- 
iour has accepted and forgiven me and that I belong to Hivi^ I 
can only walk my room repeating over and over again, Ho7V 
looiiderful ! And then when my mind strives to take in this 
love of Christ, it seems to struggle in vain with its own little- 
ness and falls back weary and exhausted, to wonder again at 

the heights and depths which surpass its comprehension 

If there is a spark of love in my heart for anybody, it is for 
this dear brother of mine, and the desire to have his education 
thorough and complete has grown with my growth. You, 
who are not a sister, can not understand the feelings with 
which I regard him, but they are such as to call forth unbound- 
ed love and gratitude toward those who show kindness to him. 

Nov. 3^. — I have always felt a peculiar love for the passage 
that describes the walk to Emmaus. I have tried to analyse 
the feeling of pleasure which it invariably sheds over my heart 
when dwelling upon it, especially upon the words, "Jesus Him- 
self drew near and went with them," and these, " He made as 
though He would go further," but yielded to their urgent. 
"Abide with us." . . This is one of the comforts of the 
Christian ; God understands him full}^ whether he can explain 
his troubles or not. Sometimes I think all of a sudden that I 



40 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

do not love the Saviour at all, and am ready to believe hat all 
my pretended anxiety to serve Him has been but a matter ol 
feeling and not of principle ; but of late I have been less dis- 
turbed by this imagination, as I find it extends to earthly 
friends who are dear to me as my own soul. I thought once 
yesterday that I didn't love anybody in the world and was per- 
fectly wretched in consequence. 

Nero. 12///.— The more I try to understand myself, the more 
I am puzzled. That I am a mixture of contradictions is the 
opinion I have long had of myself. I call it a compound of 
sincerity and reserve. Unless you see just what I mean in your 
own consciousness, I doubt whether I can explain it in words. 
With me it is both an open and a shut heart — open when and 
where and as far as I please, and shut as tight as a vise in the 
same way. I was probably born with this same mixture of 
frankness and reserve, having inherited the one from my 

mother and the other from my father I have often thought 

that, humanly speaking, it would be a strange, and surely a 
very sad thing if we none of us inherit any of our father's 
piety ; for when he prayed for his children it was, undoubtedly, 
that we might be very peculiarly the Lord's. H. was to be 
the missionary; but if he can not go himself, and is prospered 
in 'business, I hope he will be able to help send others. I have 
been frightened, of late, in thinking how little good I am doing 
in the world. And yet I believe that those who love to do 
good always find opportunities enough, wherever they are. 
Whether I shall do any here, I dare not try to guess. 

Dec. T,d. — How I thank you for the interest you take in my 
Bible class. They are so attentive to every word I say that it 
makes me deeply feel the importance of seeking each of those 
words from the Holy Spirit. Many of them had not even a 
Bible of their own until now, nor were they in the habit of 
reading it at all. Among others there are two grand-daughters 
of Patrick Henry. I wish I could give you a picture of them, 
as they sit on Sabbath evening around the table with their 
eyes fixed so eagerly on my face, that if I did not feel that the 
Lord Jesus was present, I should be overwhelmed with con- 
fusion at my unworthiness Mr. Persico is a queer man. 

Last Sabbath Miss L. asked him if he had been to church. 
"Qui, Mile.," said he; '' vous etiez a Teorlise de I'homme — 7noi 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 4I 

j'etais a I'eglise de Dieu— dans les bois." There is the bell for 
prayers ; it is an hour since I began to write, but I have spent 
a great part of it with my eyes shut because I happened to feel 
more like meditating than writing, if you know what sort of a 
feeling that is. Oh, that \vq might be enabled to go onward 
day by day — and 2ipward too. 

I have been making violent efforts for years to become meek 
and lowly in heart. At present I do hope that I am less irrita- 
ble than I used to be. It was no small comfort to me when 
sister was home last summer, to learn from her that I had suc- 
ceeded somewhat in my efforts. But though I have not often 
the last year been guilty of " harsh speeches," I have felt my 
pride tugging with all its might to kindle a great fire when 
some unexpected trial has caught me off my guard. I am per- 
suaded that real meekness dwells deep within the heart and 
that it is only to be gained by communion with our blessed 
Saviour, who when He was reviled, reviled not again. 

Sabbath Evenim::;, Wi. — I wanted to write last evening but 
had a worse pain in my side and left arm than I have had since 
I came here. While it lasted, which was an hour and a half, I 
had such pleasant thoughts for companions as would make 
any pain endurable. I was asking myself if, supposing God 
should please suddenly to take me away in the midst of life, 
whether I should feel willing and glad to go, and oh, it did 
seem delightful to think of it, and to feel sure that, sooner or 
later, the summons will come. Those pieces which you marked 
in the " Observer" I have read and like them exceedingly, especi- 
ally those about growth in grace You speak of the 

goodness of God to me in granting me so much of His pres- 
ence, while I am here away from all earthly friends. Indeed I 
want to be able to praise Him as I never yet have done, and I 
don't know where to begin. I have felt more pain in this sepa- 
ration from home on mother's account than any other, as I feel 
that she needs me at home to comfort and to love her. Since 
she lost her best earthly friend I have been her constant com- 
panion. I once had a secret desire for a missionary life, if God 
should see fit to prepare me for it, but when I spoke of it to 
mother she was so utterly overcome at its bare mention that I 
instantly promised I would never for any inducement leave or 
forsake her. I want you to pray for mc that if poor mother's 



^2 THE LIFE Ol' MRS. TRENTISS. 

right hand is made forever useless/ I may after this year oe a 
right hand for her, and be enabled to make up somewhat to 
h<:r for the loss of it by affection and tenderness and sympathy. 
... I don't remember feeling any way in particular, when I 
first began to "write for the press," as you call it. I never 
Ci.uld realise that more than half a dozen people would read 
my pieces. Besides, I have no desire of the sort you express, 
Jor fame. 1 care a great deal too much for the approbation cf 
tliose I love and respect, but not a fig for that of those I don'' 
like or don't know. 



II. 

Her Character as a Teacher. Letters. Incidents of School-Life. Relig:ious Struggles, 
Aims, and Hopes. Oppressive Heat and Weariness. 

Miss Payson had been in Richmond but a short time 
before she became greatly endeared to Mr. and Mrs. Persico, 
and to the whole school. She had a rare natural gift for 
teaching. Fond of study herself, she knew how to inspire 
her pupils with the same feeling. Her method was excellent. 
It aimed not merely to impart knowledge but to elicit latent 
powers, and to remove difficulties out of the way. While 
decided and thorough, it was also very gentle, helpful, and 
sympathetic. She had a quick perception of mental diversi- 
ties, saw as by intuition the weak and the strong points of 
individual character, and was skillful in adapting her influence, 
as well as her instructions, to the peculiarities of every one 
under her care. The girls in her own special department 
almost idolised her. The parents also of some of them, who 
belonged to Richmond and its vicinity, seeing what she was 
doing for their daughters, sought her acquaintance and showed 
her the most grateful affection. 

Although her school labors were exacting, she carried on a 
iargc correspondence, spent a good deal of time in her favor 
ite religious reading, and together with Miss Susan Lord, the 

' Referring to a serious accident, by which her mother was for some time deprived of 
ilie use of her right hand. 



THK NEW TJKK IN CHRIST. 43 

senior teacher and an old Portland friend, pursaed a course oi 
study in French and Italian. At the table Mr. Persico spoke 
French, and in this way she was enabled to perfect herself in 
the practice of that language. Of her spiritual history and of 
incidents of her school life during the new year, some extracts 
from letters to her cousin will give her own account. 

Richmond, January 3, 1S4T, 
If I tell you that I am going to take under my especial care 
and protection one of the family — a little girl of eleven years 
whom nobody can manage at all, you may wonder why. I 
found on my plate at dinner a note from Mrs. Persico saying 
that if I wanted an opportunity of doing good, here was one , 
that if Nannie could sleep in my room, etc., it might be of 
great benefit to her. The only reason why I hesitated was the 
fear that she might be in the way of our best hours. But 1 
have thought all along that I was living too much at my ease, 
and wanted a place in which to deny myself for the sake of 
the One who yielded up every comfort for my sake. Nannie 
has a fine character but has been mismanaged at home, and 
since coming here. She often comes and puts her arms around 
me and says, "There is ofie in this house who loves me, I do 
kfiow** I receive her as a trust from God, with earnest prayer 
to Him that we may be enabled to be of use to her. From 
morning to night she is found fault with, and this is spoiling 

her temper and teaching her to be deceitful I have been 

reading lately the Memoir of Martyn. I have, of course, read 
it more than once before, but everything appears to me now in 
such a different light. I rejoice that I have been led to read 
the book just now. It has put within me new and peculiar de- 
sires to live wholly for the glory of God. 

Jan. i7,t/i. — I understand the feeling about wishing one's self 
a dog, or an animal without a soul. I have sat and watched a 
little kitten frisking about in the sunshine till I could hardly 
help killing it in my envy — but oh, how different it is now ! I 
have felt lately that perhaps God has something for me to do 
in the world. I am satisfied, indeed, that in calling me nearer 
to Himself He has intended to prepare me for His service. 
Where that is to be is no concern of mine as yet. I only wish 
to belong to Him and wait for His will, whatever it may be. 



'W 



TIIK I.IFK C)V MRS. PrEN'TISS. 



/an. 14///.— I used to go tlirougli with prayer merely as i 
duty, but now I look forward to the regular time for it, and 
iKiil op|)()rtunitics for special seasons with such delight is 1 
once knew nothing of. Sometimes my heart feels ready to 
break for the longing it hath for a nearer appro:ich to the Lord 
Jesus than I can obtain without the use of words, and there is 
not a corner of the house which I can have to myself. I think 
sometimes that I should be thankful for the meanest place in 
flic universe. You ask if I ever dream of seeing the Lord. 
N0--I never did, neither should I think it desirable ; but a few 
days ago, when I woke, I had fresh in my remembrance some 
precious words which, as I had been dreaming, He had spoken 
to me. It left an indescribable feeling of love and peace on 
my mind. I seemed in my dream to be very near Him, and 
th.at He was encouraging me to ask of Him all the things of 
which I felt the need. 

/(I//. 17///. — I did not mean to write so much about myself, 
for when I took out my letter I was thinking of things and be- 
ings far above this world. I was thinking of the hour when 
the Christian first enters into the joy of his Lord, when the 
first note of the " new song " is borne to his ear, and the first view 
of tlie Lamb of God is granted to his eye. It seems to me as 
if tlie bliss of that one minute would fully compensate for all 
the toils and struggles he must go through here ; and then to 
remember the ages of happiness that begin at that point I 
Oh, if the unseen presence of Jesus can make the heart to sing 
for joy in the midst of its sorrow and sin here, what will it be 
to dwell with Him forever! 

My Piible class, which consists now of eighteen, is every week 
more dear to me. I am glad that you think poor Nannie well 
off. She has an incpiiring mind, and though before coming 
here she had received no religious instruction and had not 
f\cn a nii)le, she is now constantly asking me questions which 
prove In r to be a first-rate thinker and reasoner. She went to 
ihc theatre last night and came home quite disgusted, saying to 
h Tself, '* I shouldn't like to die in the miist of such gayeties 
ns these." She urged me to tell her if I thought it wrong for 
her to go, but I would not, because I did not want her to stay 
away for my sake. I want her to settle the question fairly in 
h-r own mind and to be guided by her own conscience rather 



THE NEW LIEE IN CHRIST. 41, 

than mine. She is so grateful and happy tliat, if the sacrifice 
had been greater, we should be glad that we had made it. And 
then if we can do her any good, how much reason we shall 
have to thank God for having placed her here ! 

Feb. 11th. — My thoughts of serious things should, perhaps. 
be called prayers, rather than anything else. I have consta'U 
need of looking up to God for help, so -utterly weak ai^d igno- 
rant am I and so dependent upon Him. Sometimes in my 
walks, especially those of the early morning, I take a verse 
from the " Daily Food " to think upon ; at others, if my mind 
is where I want it should be, everything seems to speak and 
suggest thoughts of my Heavenly Father, and when it is other- 
wise I feel as if that time had been wasted. This is not " keep- 
ing the mind on the stretch," and is delightfully refreshing. 
All I wish is that I were always thus favored. As to a hasty 
temper, I know that anybody who ever lived with me, until with- 
in the last two or three years, could tell you of many instances 
of outbreaking passion. I am ashamed to say how recently 
the last real tempest occurred, but I will not spare myself. It 
was in the spring of 1838, and I did not eat anything for so 
long that I was ill in bed and barely escaped a fever. Mother 
nursed me so tenderly that, though she forgave me, I never shall 
forgive myself. Since then I should not wish you to suppose 
that I have been perfectly amiable, but for the last year I think 
I have been enabled in a measure to control my temper, but of 
that you know more than I do, as 3^ou had a fair specimen of what 
I am when with us last summer. It has often been a source of 
encouragement to me that everybody said I was gentle and 
amiable till my father's death, when I was nine years old. . . . 
While reading to-night that chapter in Mark, where it speaks 
of Jesus as walking on the sea, I was interested in thinking 
how frequently such scenes occur in our spiritual passage over 
the sea which is finally to land us on the shores of the home 
for which we long. "While they were toiling in rowing," Jesus 
went to them upon the water and "would have passed by" 
till He heard their cries, and then He manifested Himself unto 
them saying, "// is /." And when He came to them, the wind 
ceased and they "wondered." Surely we have often found in 
our toiling tliat Jesus was passing by and ready at the first 
irembling fear to speak the word of love and of consolation 



^6 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

and to give us the needed help, and then to leave us itm'Jering 
indeed at the infinite tenderness and kindness so unexpectedly 
vouchsafed for our relief. 

Feb. 13M.— I do 7iot think we should make our enjoyment cl 
religion the greatest end of our struggle against sin. I never 
once had such an idea. I think we should fight against sin 
simply because it is something hateful to God, because it is 
something so utterly unlike the spirit of Christ, whom it is our 
privilege to strive to imitate in all things. On all points con- 
nected with the love I wish to give my Saviour, and the service 
I am to render Ilim, I feel that I want teaching and am glad 
to obtain assistance from any source. I hardly know how to 
answer your question. I do not have that constant sense of 
the Saviour's presence which I had here for a long time, neither 
do I feel that I love Him as I thought I did, but it is not always 
best to judge of ourselves by our feelings, but by the general 
principle and guiding desire of the mind. I do think that my 
prevailing aim is to do the will of God and to glorify Him in 
everything. Of this I have thought a great deal of late. I 
have not a very extensive sphere of action, but I want my con- 
duct, my every word and look and motion, to be fully under the 
influence of this desire for the honor of God. You can have 
no idea of the constant observation to which I am exposed 
here. 

Feb. 2isf. — I spent three hours this afternoon in taking care 
of a little black child (belonging to the house), who is very ill, 
and as I am not much used to such things, it excited and wor- 
ried me into a violent nervous headache. I finished Brain- 
erd's Life this afternoon, amid many doubts as to whether I 
ever loved the Lord at all, so different is my piety from that of 
this blessed and holy man. The book has been a favorite with 
me for years, but I never felt the influence of his life as I have 
while reading it of late. 

She alludes repeatedly in her correspondence to the delight 
which she found on the Sabbath in listening to that eminent 
preacher and divine, the Rev. Dr. Wm. S. Plumer, who was 
then settled in Richmond. In a letter to her cousin she 
writes : 

I have become much attached to him ; he seems "nore than 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 



47 



half in heaven, and every word is lull of solemnity and feeling, 
as if he had just held near intercourse with God. I wish that 
you could have listened with me to his sermons to-day. They 
have been, I think, blessed messages from God to my soul. 

All her letters at this time glow with religious fervor. " How 
wonderful is our divine Master!" she seemed to be always 
saying to herself. '^ It has become so delightful to me to speak 
of His love, of His holiness, of His purity, that when I try to 
write to those who know Him not, I hardly know what is 
vv^orthy of even a mention, if He is to be forgotten." And 
several years afterwards she refers to this period as a time 
when she '* shrank from everything that in the slightest degree 
interrupted her consciousness of God." 

The following letter to a friend, whose name will often re- 
cur in these pages, well illustrates her state of mind during the 
entire winter. , 

Your very welcome letter, my dear Anna, arrived this after- 
noon, and, as my labors for the week are over, I am glad 

Anna s. of a quiet hour in which to thank you for it. I do not 
Richmo)id, thank you simply because you have so soon answered 

Feb^ 26, j^y letter, but because you have told me what no one else 
could do so well about your own very dear self. When I 
wrote you I doubted very much whether I might even allude to 
the subject of religion, although I wished to do so, since that al- 
most exclusively has occupied my mind during the last year. I 
saw you in the midst of temptations to which I have ever been 
a stranger, but which I conceived to be decidedly unfavorable to 
growth in any of the graces which make up Christian character. 
It was not w^ithout hesitation that I ventured to yield to the 
promptings of my heart, and to refer to the only things wliich 
have at present much interest for it. I can not tell you how I do 
rejoice that you have been led to come out thus upon the Lord's 
side, and to consecrate yourself to His service. My own views 
and feelings have within the last year undergone such an en- 
tire change, that I have wished I could take now some such 
Stand in the presence of all who have known me in days past, 
as this which you have taken. My first and only wish is hence- 
forth to live but for Him, who has graciously drawn my wan- 



48 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS 

derinrr affections to Himself You speak of the faintness 

of your heart — but " they who wait upon the Lord shall renew 
their strength," and I do believe the truth of these precious 
words; not only because they are those of God, but also be 
cause my own experience adds happy witness to them. I have 
lived many years with only just enough of hope to keep me 
fn)m actual despair. The least breath was sufficient to scatter 
it all and to leave me, fearful and afraid, to go over and over 
again the same ground ; thus allowing neither time nor 
strength for progress in the Christian course. I trust that you 
will not go through years of such unnecessary darkness and 
despondency. There is certainly enough in our Saviour, if we 
only open our eyes that we may see it, to solve every doubt and 
satisfy every longing of the heart; and He is willing to give it 
in full measure. When I contemplate the character of the Lord 
Jesus, I am filled with wonder which I can not express, and 
with unutterable desires to yield myself and my all to His 
hand, to be dealt with in His own way ; and His way is a 
blessed one, so that it is delightful to resign body and soul 
and spirit to Him, without a will opposed to His, without a 
care but to love Him more, without a sorrow which His love 
can not sanctify or remove. In following after Him faithfully 
and steadfastly, the feeblest hopes may be strengthened; and 
I trust that you will find in your own happy experience that 
"joy and peace" go hand in hand with love — so that in pro- 
portion to your devotion to the Saviour will be the blessedness 
of your life. When I begin I hardly know where to stop, and 
now I find myself almost at the end of my sheet before I have 
begun to say what I wish. This will only assure you that I 
love you a thousand times better than I did when I did not 
know that your heart was filled with hopes and affections like 
my own, and that I earnestly desire, if Providence permits us 
to enjoy intercourse in this or in any other way, we may never 
lose sight of the una great truth that we are ml our mv/i. I 
pi ay you sonietimes remember me at the throne of grace. 
The more I see of the Saviour, tiie more I feel my own weak- 
ness and helplessness and my need of His constant presence, 
and I can not help asking assistance from all those who love 

^^in"* ^^'^ how sorry I am that I have come to the end ! 

\ wish I luid any faculty for expressing affection, so that I 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 49 

might tell you how much I love and hew often I think of 
you. ., 

Her cousin having gone abroad, a break in the correspond^ 
ence with him occurred about this time and continued for sev- 
eral months. In a letter to her friend, Miss Thurston, dated 
April 2ist, she thus refers to her school: 

There are six of us teachers, five of them born in Maine — 
which is rather funny, as that is considered by most of the 
folks here as the place where the world comes to an end. Al- 
though the South lifts up its wings and crows over the Nortli, 
it is glad enough to get its teachers there, and ministers too, 
and treats them very well when it gets them, into the bargain. 
We have in the school about one hundred and twenty-five pu- 
pils of all ages. I never knew till I came here the influence 
which early religious education exerts upon the whole future 
age. There is such a wonderful difference between most of 
these young people and those in the North, that you might al- 
most believe them another race of beings. Mrs. Persico is 
beautiful, intelligent, interesting, and pious. Mr. Persico is 
just as much like John Neal as difference of education and of 
circumstances can permit. Mr. N.'s strong sense of justice, his 
enthusiasm, his fun and wit, his independence and self-esteem, 
his tastes, too, as far as I know them, all exist in like degree in 
Mr. Persico. 

The early spring, with its profusion of flowers of every hue, 
so far in advance of the spring in her native State, gave her 
the utmost pleasure ; but as the summer approached, her 
health began to suffer. The heat was very intense, and hot 
weather always affected her unhappily. *' I feel," she wrote, 
"as if I were in an oven with hot melted lead poured over my 
brain." Her old trouble, too — '' organic disease of the heart " 
it was now suspected to be — caused her much discomfort. 
" While writing," she says in one of her letters, " I am suffer- 
ing excruciating pain ; I can't call it anything else." Her 
physical condition naturally affected more or less her religious 
feelings. Under date of July 12th, she writes: 
4 



-O THE I.IM". <>1' MKS. PIIENTISS. 

The word cofijlict expresses better than any other my general 
state from day to day. I have seemed of late like a straw 
tloating ui)on the surface of a great ocean, blown hither and 
thither by every wind, and tossed from wave to wave without 
the rest of a moment. It was a mistake of mine to imagine 
that God ever intended man to rest in this world. I see that 

it is riglit and wise in Him to appoint it otherwise 

While s'^iffering from my Saviour's absence, nothing interests 
me. But I was somewhat encouraged by reading in my fa- 
ther's memoir, and in reflecting that he passed through far 
greater spiritual conflicts than will probably ever be mine. 
.... I see now that it is not air. ays best for us to have the 
light of God's countenance. Do not spend your time and 
strength in asking for me that blessing, but this— that I may 
be transformed into the image of Ciirist in His own time, in 
His own way. 

Early in August she left Richmond and flew homeward like 
a bird to its nest. 



HI. 

Extracts from her Richmond Journal. 

Were her letters to her cousin the only record of Miss 
Payson's Richmond life, one might infer that they give a com- 
plete picture of it ; for they were written in the freedom and 
confidence of Christian friendship, with no thought that a 
third eye would ever see them. But it had another and hid- 
di'u side, of which her letters contain only a partial record. 
Her early habit of keeping a journal has been already referred 
to. Slic kept one at Richmond, and was prevented several 
years later from destroying it, as she had destroyed others, by 
the entreaty of the only person who ever saw it. This jour- 
nal depicts many of her most secret thoughts and feelings 
both earthward and hea\enward. Some passages in it are of 
too personal a nature for Dublication, but the following ex- 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 



5 



tracts seem fairly entitled to a place here, as they bring out 
several features of her character with sunlike clearness, and so 
will help to a better understanding of the ensuing narrative • 

Richmond, October 2, 1840. 

How funny it seems here ! Everything is so different from 
home ! I foresee that I shan't live nearly a year under these 
new influences without changing my old self into something 
else. Heaven forbid that I should grow old because people 
treat me as if I were grown up ! I hate old young folks. Well ! 
whoever should see me and my scholars would be at a loss to 
know wherein consists the difference between them and me, I 
am only a little girl after all, and yet folks do treat me as if I 
were as old and as wise as Methusaleh. And Mr. Persico says, 
" Oui, Madame." Oh ! oh ! oh ! It makes me feel so ashamed 
when these tall girls, these damsels whose hearts are developed 
as mine won't be these half dozen years (to say nothing of 
their minds), ask me if they may go to bed, if they may walk, 
if they may go to Mr. So-and-so's, and Miss Such-a-one's to 
buy — a stick of candy for aught I know. Oh, oh, oh ! I shall 
have to take airs upon myself. I shall have to leave off little 
words and use big ones. I shall have to leave off sitting curled 
up on my feet, turkey-fashion. I shall have to make wise 
speeches (But a word in your ear, Miss — I wont). 

Oct. 27///. — This Richmond is a queer sort of a place and I 
should be as miserable in it as a fish out of water, only there 
is sunshine enough in my heart to make any old hole bright. 
In the first place, this dowdy chamber is in one view a perfect 
den — no carpet, whitewashed walls, loose windows that have 
the shaking palsy, fire-red hearth, blue paint instead of white, 
or rather a suspicion that there was once some blue paint here. 
But what do I care ? I'm as merry as a grig from morning till 
night. The little witches down-stairs love me dearly, every- 
body is kind, and — and — and — when everybody is locked out 
and I am locked into this same room, this low attic, there's not 
a king on the earth so rich, so happy as I ! Here is my little 
pet desk, here are my books, my papers. I can write and read 
and study and moralise, I don't pretend to say ///////.'— and then 
besides, every morning and every night, within these four 
walls, heaven itself refuses not to enter in and dwell— and I 



52 THE I. IFF. OF MI^S. PRENTISS. 

may grow bettor and better and happier and happier in bless 
edness with which nothing may intermeddle. 

Mr. Persico is a man by himself, and quite interes ing to mo 
in one way, that is, in giving me something to puzzle out. I 
like him for his exquisite taste in the picture line and for hav- 
ing adorned his rooms with such fine ones — at least they're 
fine to my inexperienced eye ; for when I'm in the mood, I can 
go and sit and dream as it seemeth me good over them, and as 
I dream, won't good thoughts come into my heart ? As to Mrs. 
P., I hereby return my thanks to Nature for making her so 
beautiful. She has a face and figure to fall in love with. K. has 

also a fine face and a delicate little figure. Miss 1 shall avoid 

as far as I can do so. I do not think her opinions and feelings 
would do me any good. She has a fine mind and likes to cul- 
tivate it, and for that I respect her, but she has nothing natu- 
ral and girlish in her, and I am persuaded, never had. She 
liates little children ; says she hates to hear them laugh, thinks 
them little fools. Why, how odd all this is to me ! I could as 
soon hate the angels in heaven and hate to hear them sing. 
That, to be sure, is my way, and the other way is hers — but 
somehow it doesn't seem good-hearted to be so very, very su- 
perior to children as to shun the little loving beautiful crea- 
tures. I don't believe I ever s/ia// grow up ! But, Miss , I 

don't want to do you injustice, and Pm much obliged to you 
for all the flattering things you've said about me, and if you 
like my eyes and think there is congeniality of feeling betw^een 
us, why, I thank you. But oh, don't teach me that the wisdom 
of the world consisteth in forswearing the simple beauties with 
which life is full. Don't make me fear my own happy girlhood 
by talking to me about love — oh, don't ! 

Dtr. I.— I wonder if all the girls in the world are just alike ? 
Seems to me they might be so sweet and lovable if they'd 

leave off chattering forever and ever about lovers If 

mothers would keep their little unfledged birds under iheir 
own wings, wouldn't they make better mother-birds? Now 
some girls down-stairs, who ought to be thinking about all the 
beautiful things in life but just lovers, are reading novels, love 
stories and poetry, till they can't care for anything else. . . . 
Now, Lizzy Payson, where's the use of fretting so ? Go right 
to work reading Leighton and you'll forget that all the world 



THE NEW LIFE IX ClIRISl. 53 

isn't as wise as you think you are, you little vain thing, you ! 
Alas and alas, but this is such a nice world, and the girls don't 
know it ! 

Dec. 2. — What a pleasant walk I had this rnorning on Ambler's 
tlill. The sun rose while I was there and I was so happy ' 
The little valley, clothed with white houses and completely en- 
circled by hills, reminded me of the verse about the mountains 
round about Jerusalem. Nobody was awake so early and I 
had all the great hill to myself, and it was so beautiful that 1 
could have thrown myself down and kissed the earth itself. 
Oh, sweet and good and loving Mother Nature ! I choose you 
for my own. I will be your little lady-love. I will hunt you 
out whenever you hide, and you shall comfort me when I am 
sad, and laugh with me when I'm merry, and take me by the 
hand and lead me onward and upward till the image of tlie 
heavenly forceth out that of the earthly from my whole heart 
cind soul. Oh, how I prayed for a holy heart on that hillside and 
liow sure I am that I shall grow better ! and what companion 
able thoughts I've had all day for that blessed walk ! 

2)th. — My life is a nice little life just now, as regular as clock 
work. We walk and we keep school, and our scholars kiss and 
love us, and we kiss and love them, and we read Lamartine and 
I worship Leighton, good, wise, holy Leighton, and we discourse 
about everything together and dispute and argue and argue 
and dispute, and I'm quite happy, so I am ! As to Lamartine, 
he's no great things, as I know of, but I want to keep up my 
knowledge of French and so we read twenty pages a day. And 
as to our discourses, r^y fidgety, moralising sort of mind wants 
to compare its doctrines with those of other people, though 
it's as stiff as a poker in its own opinions. You're a very con 
sistent little girl ! you call yourself a child, are afraid to ojxm. 
your mouth before folks, and yet you're as obstinate and proud 
as a little man, daring to think for yourself and act accord- 
ingly at the risk of being called odd and incomprcliensible. 1 
don't care, though ! Run on and break your neck if you will. 
Vou're nothing especial after all. 

9///. — To-night, in unrolling a bundle of v/ork I found a little 
note therein from mother. Whew, how I kissed it ! I thought 
I should fly out of my senses, I was so glad. But I can't Hy 
now-a-days, I'm growing so unetherial. Whv, I take up a lot 



54 THE I!FK OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

of loom in the world and my frocks won't hold me. That's 
because my heart is so quiet, lying as still as a mouse, after all 
its tossings about and trying to be happy in the things of this 
life. Oh, I am so happy now in the other life ! But as for tell- 
ing other people so— as for talking religion — I don't see how I 
can. It doesn't come natural. Is it because I am proud ? But 
I pray to be so holy, so truly a Christian, that my life shall 
speak and gently persuade all who see me to look for the hid- 
den spring of my perpetual happiness and quietness. The only- 
question is : Do I live so? I'm afraid I make religion seem too 
grave a thing to my watching maidens down-stairs ; but, oh, 
I'm afraid to rush into their pleasures. 

25///. — .... I've been "our Lizzy " all my life and have not 
had to display my own private feelings and opinions before 
folks, but have sat still and listened and mused and lived with- 
in myself, and shut myself up in my corner of the house and 
speculated on life and the things thereof till I've got a set of 
notions of my own which Aovit fit into the notions of anybody 
I know. I don't open myself to anybody on earth ; I can not ; 
there is a world of something in me which is not known to 
those about me and perhaps never will be ; but sometimes I 
think it would be delicious to love a mind like mine in some 
things, only better, wiser, nobler. I do not quite understand 
life. People don't live as they were made to live, I'm sure. . . 
. . I want soul. I want the gracious, glad spirit that finds the 
good and the beautiful in everything, joined to the manly, ex- 
alted intellect — rare unions, I am sure, yet possible ones. Lit- 
tle girl ! Do you suppose such a soul would find anything in 
yours to satisfy it ? No — no — no — I do not. I know I am a poor 
little goose which ought to be content with some equally poor 
little gander, but I ivont. I'll never give up one inch of the.se 
tlic demands of my reason and of my heart for all the truths 
you tell iiKr about myself — never ! But descend from your ele- 
vation, oh speculating child of mortality, and go down to 
school. Oil, no, no school for a week, and I guess I'll spend 
the week in fancies and follies. It won't hurt me. I've done it 
before and got back to the world as satisfied as ever, indeed 1 
have. 

Jan. I, 1 84 1. —We've been busy all the week getting our pres- 
ents ready for the servants, and a nice time I've had this morning 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 55 

seeing them show their ivory thereat. James made a little 
speech, the amount of which was, he hoped I wouldn't get mar- 
ried till I'd "done been" here two or three years, because my 
face was so pleasant it was good to look at it ! I was as proud 
as Lucifer at this compliment, and shall certainly look pleasant 
all day to-day, if I never did before. Monsieur and the j-est 
wished me, I won't say how many, good wishes, rushing at me 
as I went in to breakfast— and Milly privately informed Lucy that 
she liked Miss Payson " a heap " better than she did any body 
else, and then came and begged me to buy her ! I buy her ! 
Heaven bless the poor little girl. I had some presents and af- 
fectionate notes from different members of the family and from 
my scholars — also letters from sister and Ned, which delighted 
me infinitely more than I'm going to tell jw/, old journal. Took 
tea at Mr. P.'s and Mrs. P. laughed at her husband because he 
had once an idea of going to New England to get my little 
ladyship to wife (for the sake of my father, of course). Mr. P. 
blushed like a boy and fidgeted terribly, but I didn't care a 
snap — I am not old enough to be wife to anybody, and I'm not 
going to mind if people do joke with me about it. I've had 
better things to think of on this New Year's day — good, heaven; 
ward thoughts and prayers and hopes, and if I do not become 
more and more transformed into the Divine, then are prayers 
and hopes things of nought. Oh, how dissatisfied I am with 
myself. How I long to be like unto Him into whose image I 
shall one day be changed when I see Him as He is ! 

I believe nobody understands me on religious points, for I can 
not, and, it seems to me, need not parade my private feelings be- 
fore the world. Cousin G., God bless him ! knows enough, and 
yet my letters to him do not tell the hundredth part of tliat 
which these four walls might tell, if they would. I do not know 
that I am not wrong, but I do dislike the present style of talking 
on religious subjects. Let people pray — earnestly, fervently, 
not simply morning and night, but the whole day long^ making 
their lives one continued prayer ; but, oh, don't let them tell 
others of, or let others know half how much of communion 
with Heaven is known to their own hearts. Is it not true tluit 
those who talk most, go most to meetings, run hither and 
thither to all sorts of societies and all sorts of readings — is il 
not true that such people would not find peace and content 



56 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

mcnt— yes, blessedness of blessedness— in solitary hours when 
to the Searcher of hearts alone are known their aspirations and 
their love ? I do not know, I am puzzled ; but I may say here, 
where nobody will ever see it, what I do think, and I say it to 
my own heart as well as over the hearts of others— there is not 
enough of real, true communion with God, not enough near- 
ness to Him, not enough heart-searching before Him ; and too 
much parade and bustle and noise in doing His work on earth. 
Oh, I do not know exactly what I mean— but since I have heard 
so many apparently Christian people ow^n that of this sense of 
nearness to God they know absolutely nothing— that they pray 
because it is their habit without the least expectation of meet- 
ing the great yet loving Father in their closets— since I have 
heard this I am troubled and perplexed. Why, is it not indeed 
true that the Christian believer, God's own adopted, chosen, 
beloved child, may speak face to face with his Father, humbly, 
reverently, yet as a man talketh with his friend ? Is it not true ? 
Do not I know that it is so ? Oh, I sometimes want the wisdom 
of an angel that I may not be thus disturbed and wearied. 

1 4///._Now either Miss 's religion is wrong and mine 

rJglit, or else it's just the other way. I wrote some verses, 
funny ones, and sent her to-day, and she returned for answer 
that verse in Proverbs about vinegar on nitre, and seemed dis- 
tressed that I ever had such worldly and funny thoughts. I 
told her I should like her better if she ever had any but solemn 
ones, whence we rushed into a discussion about proprieties and 
I maintained that a mind was not in a state of religious health, 
it' it could not safely indulge in thoughts funny as funny could 
be. Siie shook her head and looked as glum as she could, and 
I'm really sorry that I vexed her righteous soul, though I'm 
sure I feel funny ever so much of the time, can not help saying 
funny things and cutting up capers now and then. I'll take 
care not to marry a glum man, anyhow; not that I want my 
future lord and master to be a teller of stories, a wit, or a par- 
ticularly funny man — but he shan't wear a long face and make 
nie wear a long one, though he may be as pious as the day is 
long and viust be, what's more. Oh, my ! I don't think I was 

so very naughty. I saw Miss laughing privately at these 

same verses, and she rushed in to Mrs. P. and read them to her 
tnd then copied them for her aunt and paid twenty-five cents 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 57 

postage on the letter. I should like to know how she dared 
waste so much time in unholy employments ! As I was saying, 
and am always thinking, it's rather queer that people are so 
oddly different in their ideas of religion. Heaven forbid I 
should trifle with serious and holy thoughts of my head and 
heart— but if my religion is worth a straw, such verse-writing 
will not disturb it. 

January i6t/i. — I wonder what's got into me to-day — I feel 
cross, without the least bit of reason for so feeling. I guess 
I'm not well, for I'm sure I've felt like one great long sunbeam, 
I don't know how many months, and it doesn't come natural 
to be fretful. 

17M. — I knew I wasn't well yesterday and to-day am half 
sick. We got through breakfast at twenty minutes to eleven, 
and as I was up at seven, I got kind o' hungry and out of sorts. 
This afternoon went to church and heard one of Dr. E.'s argu- 
mentative sermons. But there's something in those Prayer- 
book prayers, certainly, if men won't or can't put any grace 
into their sermons. I wish I had a perfect ideal Sunday in my 
head or heart, or both. If I'm very good I'm tired at night, and 
if I'm bad my conscience smites me — so any way I'm not very 
happy just now and I'm sick and mean to go to bed and so ! 

i8//^.— Had a talk with Nannie. She has a thoughtful mind 
and who knows but we may do her some good. I love to have 
her here, and for once in my life like to feel a little bit — just 
the least bit — old; that is, old enough to give a little sage 
advice to the poor thing, when she asks it. She says she won't 
read any more novels and will read the Bible and dear knows 
what else she said about finding an angel for me to marry, 
which heaven forbid she should do, since I'm too fond of being 
a little mite naughty, to desire anything of that sort. After 
she. was in bed she began to say her prayers most vehemently 
and among other things, prayed for Miss Payson. I had the 
strangest sensation, and yet an almost heavenly one, if I may 
say so. May it please Heaven to listen to her prayer for me, 
and mine for her, dear child. But suppose I do her no good 
w\i\\& she lives so under my wing? 

igf/i. — Up early — walked and read Leighton. Mr. P. amused 
us at dinner by giving a funny account in his funny way, of a 
mistake of E H. 's. She asked me the French for as. 



jg Tin- LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

"Aussi" cir.oth I. Thereupon she tucked a great O. C. mto 
her exercise and took it to him and they jabbered and sput- 
tered over it, and she insisted that Miss Payson said so and he 
put his face right into hers and said, Will you try to prove 
that Miss Payson is a fool, you little goose?" and at last Miss 
A understood and explained. Read Leighton after school 
and thirty-two pages of Lamartine-then Mr. P. calkd-then 

Mis- teased me" to love her and kept me in her paws till 

the bell rang for tea. Why can't I like her? I should be so 
ashamed if I should find out after all that she is as good as she 
seems, but I never did get cheated yet when I trusted my own 
mother wits, my instinct, or whatever it is by which I know 
folks— and she is found wanting by this something. 

28M.— Mrs. Persico has comforted me to-day. She says Mr. 
T. came to Mr. P. with tears in his eyes (could such a man shed 
tears?) and told him that I should be the salvation of his 
child— that she was already the happiest and most altered 
creature, and begged him to tell me so. I was ashamed and 
happy too— but I think Mr. P. should have told him that if 
good has been done to Nannie, it is ^j- much— to say the least- 
owing to Louisa as to me. L. always joins me in everything I 
do and say for her, and I would not have even an accident de- 
prive her of her just reward for anything. Nannie sat on the 
floor to-night in her night-gowm, thinking. At last she said, 
" Miss Payson ? " " Well, little witch ? " " You wouldn't care 
much if you should die to-night, should you?" "No, I think 
not." "Nor I," said she. "Why, do you think you should be 
better off than you are here?" "Yes, in heaven," said she. 
" Why how do you know you'll go to heaven ? " She looked at 
me seriously and said, "Oh, I don't know— I don't know— I 
don't think I should like to go to the other place." We had 
then a long talk with her and it seems she's a regular little 
believer in Purgatory — but I wouldn't dispute with her. I 
jruess there's a way of getting at her heart better than that. 
.... Why is it that I have such a sensitiveness on religious 
points, sucli a dread of having my own private aims and emc»- 
tions known by those about me ? Is it right? I should like to 
be just what the Christian ought to be in these relations. Miss 

expects me to make speeches to her, but I can ?iot. If 1 

thought I knew ever so much, I could not, and she annoys me 



Till-: NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. jg 

SO. Oh, I wish it didn't hurt my soul so to touch it ! It's just 
like a butterfly's wing-people can't help tearing off the very 
invisible down, so to speak, for which they take a fancy to it if 
they get it between fingers and thumb, and so I have to suffer 
foi their curiosity's sake. Am I bound to reveal my heart-life 
to everybody who asks } Must I not believe that the heavenly 
love may, in one sense, be hidden from outward eye and out- 
ward touch .? or am I wrong ? 

Feb. I, 1841.— Rose later than usual— cold, dull, rainy morn- 
ing. Read in Life of Wilberforce. Defended Nannie with 
more valor than discretion. This evening the storm departed 
and the moonlight was more beautiful than ever ; and I was 
so sad and so happy, and the life beyond and above seemed so 
beautiful. Oh, how I have longed to-day for heaven within 
my own soul ! There has been much unspoken prayer in my 
heart to-night. I don't know what I should do if I could have 
my room all to myself— and not have people know it if even a 
good thought comes into my mind. I shall be happy in heaven, 
I know I shall— for even here prayer and praise are so infinitely 
more delightful than anything else. 

3^.— Woke with headache, got through school as best I 
could, then came and curled myself up in a ball in the easy- 
chair and didn't move till nine, when I crept down to say 
good-bye to poor Mrs. Persico. Miss L. and Miss J. received 
me in their room so tenderly and affectionately that I was 
ashamed. What makes them love me .? I am sure I should 
not think they could. 

10//..— I wonder who folks think I am, and what they think? 

Sally R sent me up her book of autographs with a request 

that I would add mine. I looked it over and found very great 
names, and did not know whether to laugh or cry at her funny 
request, which I couldn' t have made up my mouth to grant. 
How queer it seems to me that people won't let me be a little 
gin and will act as if I were an old maid or matron of ninety- 
nine ! Poor Mr. Persico is terribly unhappy and walks up and 
down perpetually with such a step. 

^^^f ~" I am sure that in these little thin^rs God's 

hand is just as clearly to be seen as in His wonderful worl<^ of 

power, and tried to make Miss see this, but she either 

couldn't or wouldn't. It seems to me that God is my Father 



6o TIIK LIFE OF MRS. ITIENTISS. 

my own Father, and it is so natural to turn right to Hun, ever> 
minute almost, with cither thank-offerings or petition., that I 
never once stop to ask if such and such a matter is sufficiently 
great for 1 1 is notice. Miss seemed quite astonished when 

I said so. . . w 

^(^th— I've been instituting an inquiry into myselt 

to-day and have been worthily occupied in comparing myself 
to an onion, though in view of the fragrance of that highly 
useful vegetable, I hope the comparison won't go on all tours 
But I have as many natures as an onion has— what d'ye call 
'em— coats ? First the outside skin or nature— kind o' tough 
and ugly ; ^//vbody may see that and welcome. Then comes 
my next nature— a little softer— a little more removed from 
curious eyes ; then my inner one— myself— that 'ere little round 
ball which nobody ever did or ever will see the w^hole of— at 
least, s'pose not. Now most people see only the outer rind— a 
brown, red, yellow, tough skin and that's all ; but I tJiink there's 
something inside that's better and more truly an onion than 
might at first be guessed. And so I'm an onion and that's the end. 
jy/// _Mi-s. P.'s birthday, in honor of which cake and wine. 
Mr. P. was angry with us because we took no wine. If he hac 
asked me civilly to drink his wife's health, I should probably 
have done so, but I am not to be frightened into anything. I 
made a funny speech and got him out of his bearish mood, 
and then we all proceeded to the portico to see if the new 
President had arrived — by which means we obtained a satis- 
factory view of two cows, three geese, one big boy in a white 
apron and one small one in a blue apron, three darkies of femi- 
nine gender and one old horse ; but Harrison himself we saw 
not. Mr. Persico says it's Tyler's luck to get into office by the 
dcalh of his superior, and declares Harrison must inf^iUibly die 
to secure John Tyler's fate. It's to be hoped this w^on't be the 
case. ' 

i^farch 6t/i. — Miss L. read to us to-day some sprightly and 
amusing little notes written her years ago by a friend with 
whom she still corresponds. I was struck with the contrast 
between these youthful and light-hearted fragments and her 
present letters, now that she is a wife and mother. I wonder 

> But, singularly enoiip:!), it was. President Harrison died April 4, 1S41, just a niuuth 
liter liis inaui;uialit>n, and Mi. I'yler succeeded liiui. ^ 



THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 6l 

if there is always this difference between the girl and woman ^ 
If so, heaven forbid I should ever cease to be a child ! 

iSt/i. — Headache — Nannie sick ; held her in my arms twa 
or three hours ; had a great fuss with her about taking her 
medicine, but at last out came my word ??iiist, and the little 
witch knew it meant all it said and down went the oil in a jitfy, 
while I stood by laughing at myself for my pretension of dig- 
nity. The poor child couldn't go to sleep till she had thankcil 
me over and over for making her mind and for taking care of 
her, and wouldn't let go my hand, so I had to sit up until very 
late — and then I was sick and sad and restless, for I couldn't 
have my room to myself and the day didn't seem finished with- 
out it. 

It is a perfect mystery to me how folks get along with so 
little praying. Their hearts must be better than mine, or some- 
thing. What is it ? But if God sees that the desire of my 
whole heart is to-night — has been all day — towards Himself, 
will He not know this as prayer, answer it as such ? Yes, 
prayer is certainly something more than bending of the knees 
and earnest words, and I do believe that goodness and mercy 
will descend upon me, though with my lips I ask not. 

2^th. — Had a long talk with Mr. Persico about my style of 
governing. He seemed interested in what I had to say about 
appeals to the conscience, but said my youthful entkusias??i would 
get cooled down when I knew more of the world. I told him, 
very pertly, that I hoped I should never know the world then. 
He laughed and asked, "You expect to make out of these 
stupid children such characters, such hearts as yours ? " " No — 
but better ones." He shook his head and said I had put him 
into good humor. I don't know what he meant. I've been 
acting like Sancho to-day — rushing up stairs two at a time, 

frisking about, catching up Miss J in all her maiden dignity 

and tossing her right into the midst of our bed. Who's going 
to be " schoolma'am " out of school ? Not I ! I mean to l)e 

jubt as funny as I please, and what's more I'll make Miss 

funny, too, — that I will ! She'd have so much more health — 
Christian health, I mean — if she would leave off trying to gel 
to heaven in such a dreadful bad "way." I can't think rcii^^ion 
makes such a long, gloomy face. It must be that she is wrong 
or else I am. I wonder which? Why it's all sunshine to me— 
and all clouds to her ! Poor Miss , you might be so happy 



52 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

April 9M.— Holidav. We all took a long walk, which I en 
'oved hi^rhly I was in a half moralising mood all thp way 
wanted to be by myself very much. We talked more than 
usual about home and I grew so sad. Oh, I wonder if any. 
body loves me as Hove! I wonder ! I long for mother, and if 
I could just see her and know that she is happy and that she 
will be well again ! It is really a curious question with me, 
whether provided I ever fall in love (for V\\ fall in love, else 
not go in at all) I shall leave off loving mother best of any- 
body in the world ? I suppose I shall be in love sometime or 
other, but that's nothing to do with me now nor I with it. I've 
got my hands full to take care of my naughty little self. 

i7///,_Mrs. Persico got home to-night' and what a meeting 
we had ! what rejoicing ! How beautiful she looked as she sat 
in her low chair, and we stood and knelt in a happy circle about 
her ! A queen— an angel— could not have received love and 
homage with a sweeter grace. Sue Irvine cried an hour for 
joy and I wished I were one of the crying sort, for I'm sure 1 
was glad enough to do almost anything. Beautiful woman ! 
We sang to her the Welcome Home, Miss F. singing as much 
with her eyes as with her voice, and Mr. and Mrs. Persico both 
cried, he like a little child. Oh, that such evenings as this 
came oftener in one's life ! All that was beautiful and good in 
each of our hidden natures came dancing out to greet her at 
her coming, and all petty jealousies were so quieted and— 
why, what a rhapsody I'm writing ! And to-morrow, our good 
better natures tucked away, dear knows where, we shall de- 
scend with business-like airs to breakfast, wish each other good 
morning, pretend that we haven't any hearts. Oh, is this life ! 
I won't l)elieve it. Our good genius has come back to us ; 
now all things will again go on smoothly ; once more I can be 
a little girl and frolic up here instead of playing Miss Dignity 
down-stairs. 

Max itli. — This evening I passed unavoidably through Miss 

's room. She was reading Byron as usual and looked sc 

'vretched and restless, that I could not help yielding to a lov- 
ing impulse and juitting my hand on hers and asking why she 
was so sad. She told me. It was just what I supposed. She 
is trying to be happy, and can not find out how; reads Byron 

' From riiikiilelphia, where she had undergdue a surgical operation. 



THE NEW LIFE I\ CHRIST. 63 

and gets sickly views of life; sits up late dreaming about love 
and lovers; then, too tired to pray or think good thoughts, 
tosses herself down upon her bed and wishes herself dead. 
She did not tell me this, to be sure, but I gathered it from her 
story. I alluded to her religious history and present hopes 
She said she did not think continued acts of faith in Christ 
necessary ; she had believed on Him once, and now He would 
save her whatever she did; and she was not going to torment 
herself trying to live so very holy a life, since, after all, she 
should get to heaven just as well through Him as if she had 
been particularly good (as she termed it). I don't know 
whether a good or a bad spirit moved me at that minute, but I 
forgot that I was a mere child in religious knowledge, and 
talked about my doctrine and made it a very beautiful one to 
my mind, though I don't think she thought it so. Oh, for 
what would I give up the happiness of praying for a holy heart 
—of striving, struggling for it! Yes, it is indeed true that we 
are to be saved simply, only, apart from our own goodness, 
through the love of Christ. But who can believe himself thus 
chosen of God — who can think of and hold communion with 
Infinite Holiness, and not long for the Divine image in his own 
soul ? It is a mystery to me — these strange doctrines. Is not 
the fruit of love aspiration after the holy? Is not the act of 
the new-born soul, when it passes from death unto life, that of 
desire for assimilation to and oneness with Him who is its all 
in all ? How can love and faith be one act and then cease ? I 
dare not believe — I would not for a universe believe — that my 
very sense of safety in the love of Christ is not to be just the 
sense that shall bind me in grateful self-renunciation wholly to 
His service. Let me be sure of final rest in heaven — sure that 
at this moment I am really God's own adopted child ; and I 
believe my prayers, my repentings, my weariness of sin, would 
be just what they now are; nay, more deep, more abundant. 
Oh, it is because I believe — fully believe that I shall be saved 
through Christ — that I want to be like Him here upon earth 
It is because I do not fear final misery that I shrink from sin 
and defilement here. Oh, that I could put into that poor be- 
wildered heart of hers just the sweet repose upon the ever 
present Saviour which He has given unto me! The quietnessi 
with which my whole soul rests upon Him is such blessed qui 
etness ! I shall not soon forget this strange evening. 



CHAPTER III. 

PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 

184I-1845. 

I. 

At Home aj^ain. Marriaf;:e of her Sister. Ill-Health. Letters. Spiritual Aspiration 
and Conflict. Perfectionism, " Very, very Happy." Work for Christ what makes 
Life attractive. Passages from Her Journal. A Point of Difficulty. 

Not long after Elizabeth's return from Richmond, her sis- 
ter was married to the Rev. Albert Hopkins, Professor in 
Williams College. The wedding had been delayed for her 
coming. " I would rather wait six years than not have you 
present," her sister wrote. This event brought her into inti- 
mate relations with a remarkable man ; a man much beloved 
in his day, and whose name will often reappear in these pages. 

The next two or three months show^ed that her Richmond 
life, although so full of happy experiences, had yet drawn 
licavily upon her strength. They were marked by severe nen^- 
ous excitement and fits of depression. This, however, passed 
away and she settled down again into a busy home life. But 
it was no longer the home life of the past. The year of ab- 
sence had left a profound impression upon her character. Her 
mind and heart had undergone a rapid development. She 
was only twenty-two on her return, and had still all the fresh, 
artless simplicity of a young girl, but there was joined to it 
now the maturity of womanhood. Of the rest of the year o 
record is preserved in letters to her cousin. These letters give 
many little details respecting her daily tasks and the life she 
led In the family and in the world ; but they are chiefly inter- 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 05 

esting for the light they shed upon her progress heavenward. 
Her whole soul was still absorbed in divine things. At times 
her delight in them was sweet and undisturbed ; then again, 
she found herself tossed to and fro upon the waves of spiritual 
conflict. Perfectionism was just then much discussed, and the 
question troubled her not a little, as it did again thirty years 
later. But whether agitated or at rest, her thoughts all cen- 
tered in Christ, and her const :mt prayer was for more love to 
Him. 

Portland, Sept. 15, 1841. 
The Lord Jesus is indeed dear to me. I can not doubt it. 
His name is exceedingly precious. Oh, help me, my dear cousin, 
to love Him more, to attain His image, to live only for Him ! 
I blush and am ashamed when I consider how inadequate are 
the returns I am making Him ; yet I can praise Him for all 
that is past and trust Him for all that is to come. I can not 
tell you how delightful prayer is. I feel that in it I have com- 
munion with God — that He is here — that He is mine and that 
I am His. I long to make progress every day, each minute 
seems precious, and I constantly tremble lest I should lose one 
in returning, instead of pressing forward with all my strength. 
No, not my strength, for I have none, but with all which the 
Lord gives me. How can I thank you enough that you pray 
for me ! 

Sept. iS>th. — I am all the time so nervous that life would be 
insupportable if I had not the comfort of comforts to rejoice in. I 
often think mother would not trust me to carry the dishes to the 
closet, if she knew how strong an effort I have to make to avoid 
dashing them all to pieces. When I am at the head of the 
stairs 1 can hardly help throwing myself down, and I believe it 
a greater degree of just such a state as this which induces the 
suicide to put an end to his existence. It was never so bad 
with me before. Do you know anything of such a feeling as 
this? To-night, for instance, my head began to feel all at once 
as if it were enlarging till at last it seemed to fill the room, and 
I thought it large enough to carry away the house. Then every 
object of which I thought enlarged in proportion. Wlien this 
goes off the sense of the contraction is equally singular. My 
head felt about the size of a pin's head ; our church and every- 
body in it appeared about the bigness of a cup, etc. These 
5 



56 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

Strange sensations terminate invariably with one still more sin- 
gular and particularly pleasant. I can not describe it-it is a 
sense of smoothness and a little of dizziness. If you never had 
such feelings this will be all nonsense to you, but if you have 
and can explain them to me, why I shall be indeed thankful. I 
have been subject to them ever since I can remember. I never 
ma with a physician yet who seemed to know what is the mat- 
ter with me, or to care a fig whether I got well or not. All 
they do is to roll up their eyes and shake their heads and say, 
" Oh !".... As to the wedding, we had a regular fuss, so that 
I hardly knew whether I was in the body or out of it. The 
Professor was here only two days. He is very eminently holy, 
his friends say, and from what I saw of him, I should think it 
true. This was the point which interested sister in him. As 
soon as the wedding was over my spirits departed and fled. It 
is true enough that "marriage involves one union, but majiy 

separations y 

Q^t iy//^._\Ve had a most precious sermon this afternoon 
from the Baptist minister on the words, " Christ is all and in 
all." I longed to have you hear the Saviour thus dwelt upon. 
I did not know how full the Apostles were of His praise— how 
constantly they dwelt upon Him, till it was spread before me 
thus in one delightful view. Oh, may He become our all— our 
beginning and our ending— our first and our last ! I do love 
to hear Him thus honored and adored. Let us, dear cousin, 
look at our Saviour more. Let us never allow aught to come 
between our hearts and our God. Speak to me as to your own 
soul, urging me onward, and if you do not see the fruits of 
your faithfulness here, may you see when sowing is turned to 
reaping. 

Oct. 24M. — I must call upon you to rejoice with me that I 
have to-day got back my old Sunday-school class. I wondered 
a . their being so earnest about having me again, yet I trust 
that God has given me this hold upon their affections for some 
good purpose I do not know exactly how to discrimi- 
nate between the suggestions of Satan and those of my own 
heart, but for a week past, even \vhile my inclinations and my 
will were set upon Christ, something followed me in my down- 
sittings and my ujirisings, urging me to hate the Lord Jesus 
asking if 11 i^ strict requirements were n-^t too strait to be en- 



TASSING FROM (GIRLHOOD INTO WOMAXTIOOD. 67 

dured ; and it has grieved me deeply that such a thought could 
find its way into my mind. " I have prayed for thee that thy 
faith fail not " is my last refuge. How graciously did Jesus 
provide a separate consolation for each difficulty which lli! 
foresaw could meet His disciples on their way. 

Nov. 2>t/i. — Mother has been sick. The doctor feared inflam- 
mation of the brain ; but she is better now. I have had my 
first experience as a nurse, and Dr. Mighels says I am a good 
one. 

Whenever I think of God's wonderful, luonderftd goodness to 
me and of my own sinfulness, I want to find a place low at the 
foot of the cross where I may cover my face in the dust, and 
yet go on praising Him. You do not know how all things 
have been made new to me within less than two years. Still, I 
struggle fiercely every hour of my life. For instance, my de- 
sire to be much beloved by those dear to me, is a source of 
constant grief. Some weeks ago, a person, who probably did 
not know this, told me that I was remarkably lovable and that 
everybody said so. I was so foolish, so wicked, as to be more 
pleased by this than I dare to tell — but enough so to give me 
after-hours of bitter sorrow. Sometimes it seem.s to me that I 
grow prouder every day, and I wanted to ask mother if she 
did not think so ; but I thought perhaps God is showing me 
my pride as I had never seen it that I may wage war against 
this. His enemy and mine. I do not believe anybody else has 
such an evil nature as I. But let us never rest till we are satis- 
fied with being counted as nothing, that our Saviour may be 
all in all. It seems no small portion of the joy I long for in 
heaven, to be thus self-forgetful in love to Christ. How strange 
that we do not now supremely love Him. How I do long to 
live with those who praise Him. I long to have every Chris- 
tian with whom I meet speak of Him with love and exalt Him.' 

Nov. \2th. — I have been very unwell and low-spirited. The 
cause of this, folks seem to agree, was over-exertion during 
mother's sickness. To tell the truth, I was so anxious about 
her that I did not try to save my strength at all, and excite- 

> ya7i. I, 1S45.— I used never to confide my religious feelinf;:s to any one in the world- 
[ went on my toilsome, comfortless way quite by myself. But when at the tnd cf tills 
long-, gloomy way, I saw and knew and rejoiced in Christ, then I forgot myself and my 
pride and my reserve, and wa5 glad if a little child would hear me say " I love Him I "- 
glad if the. most ignorant, the most hitherto despised, would speak of Him. 



68 TTIK UFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

mcnt Vcpt mc up, so that I was not conscious of any special fa 
tiiruc till all was over and the reaction came, when I just went 
into a dead-and-alive state and had the "blues" outrageously 
It seemed as if I could do nothing but fold my hands and cry. 
Sister is coming home this winter. I would like you to see 
this letter of hers. She is as nearly a perfectionist now as your 
father is. She begs me to read the New Testament and to pray 
for a knowledge of the truth. And so I have for a year and a half, 
and this is what I learn thereby : "The heart is deceitful above 
all things and desperately wicked "—at least such I find mine 
to be. To be sure, that I am not perfect is no proof that I may 
not become so ; however, I feel most sympathy with those who, 
like Martyn, Brainerd, and my father, had to fight their way 
through. Yet her remarks threw my mind into great confu- 
sion at first and I knew not what to do; thereupon I went at 
once with my difficulties to the Lord and tried to seek thetruth^ 
whatever it might be, from Him. It seems to me that I am safe 
while in His hands, and that if those things are essential. He 
will not withhold them from me. Truly, if there is a royal 
road to holiness, and if in one moment of time sin may be 
crushed and forever slain, I of all others should know it ; for 
at present the way is thronged with difficulties.' It seems to 
inr that I am made of wants — I need everything. At the same 
time, how great is the goodness of God to me ! I long to have 
mv heart so filled with the one single image of my Redeemer, 
that it shall ever flow in spontaneous adoration. Such a Sav- 
iour! I am pained to the very depths of my soul because I 
love Him so little If I am only purified and made en- 
tirely the Lord's, let Him take His own course and make the re- 
fining process ever so painful. 

" WHicn the shore is won at last, 
Who will count the billows past?" 

Dec. \(ith. — Do you remember what father said about losing 

• \a\vx slf writes : "I have had a lonp: talk with sister to-day about Leighton. She 
cbiins him. as all the I'crfectiotiists do, as one of their number; thougfh, by the way, in 
thr cnmn.oii acceptation of the woixl, she is nr t a Perfectionist herself, but only on the 
lx>unHar>--linc of the enchanted ground. I am completely puzzled when I think on such 
BU>)j«Hns. I doubt if sister is ri^'ht, yet know not where she is wrong. She does not ob- 
tnide her peculiar opinions on any one, and I be£;an the conversation this afternoon my- 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOCM^ INTO WOMANHOOD. 69 

his will when near the close of his life? That remark has al- 
ways made the subject of a lost will interesting to me. There is 
another place where he wishes he had known this blessedness 
twenty years before/ 

Dec. 18///. — I am very, very happy; and yet it is hardly a 
happiness which I can describe. You know what it is to re- 
joice in the sweet consciousness that there is a Saviour — a near 
and a present Saviour ; and thus am I now rejoicing ; grateful 
to Him for His holy nature, for His power over me, for His 
dealings with me, for a thousand things which I can only try 
to express to Him. Oh, how excellent above all treasures does 
He now appear ! One minute of nearness to the Lord Jesus 
contains more of delight than years spent in intercourse 
with any earthly friend. I could not but own to-night that 
God can make me happy without a right hand or a right eye. 
Lord, make me Thine, and I will cheerfully give Thee all. 

Dec. lid. — As to my Italian and Tasso, I am ashamed to tell 
you how slow I have been. Between company and housework 
£ind sewing I have my hands about full, and precious little time 
for reading and study. Still, I feel that I live a life of too much 
ease. I should love to spend the rest of my existence in the 
actual service of the Lord, without a question as to its ease and 
comfort. Reading Brainerd this afternoon made me long for 
his loose hold on earthly things. I do not know how to attain 
to such a spirit. Is it by prayer alone and the consequent 
sense of the worth of Divine things that this deadness to the 
world is to be gained — or, by giving up, casting away the 
treasures which withdraw the heart or have a tendency to with- 
draw it from God? This is quite an interesting question to me 
now, and I should really like it settled. The thought of living 
a])art from God is more dreadful than any affliction I can 
think of. 

^ " Oh, what a blessed thing it is to lose one's will ! Since I have lost my will I havfl 
found happiness. There can be no such thing as disappointment to me, for 1 liave node- 
sires but that God's will may be accomplished." " Christians might avoid much trouble 
if >:liey would only believe what they profess, viz. : that God is able to make them liappy 
without anything but Himself. They imagine that if such a dear friend were to die, or 
buch and such blessings to be removed, they should be miserable ; whereas God can 
make them a thousand times happier without them. To mention my own case : God 
lias been depriving me of one blessing after another ; but as ever>' one was removed, H« 
has come in and filled up its place ; and now, when I am a cripple and not able tn move, 
I am happier than ever I was in my life before or ever expected to be ; and if I had be 
Ueved this twenty years ago, I might have been spared mucli anxiety " 



70 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

Here are some passages from two leaves of her journal 
which escaped the flames. They touch upon another side oi 
her life at this period. 

December i, 1841. — I went to the sewing-circle this afternoon 
and had such a stupid time ! Enough gossip and nonsense 
was talked to make one sick, and I'm sure it wasn't the fault of 
my head that my hair didn't stand on end. Now my mother 
is a very sensible mother, but when she urges me into company 
and exhorts me to be more social, she runs the risk of having 
me become as silly as the rest of 'em. She fears I may be 
harmed by reading, studying and staying with her, but heaven 
forbid I should find things in books worse than things out ol 
them. I can't think the girls are the silly creatures they make 
themselves appear. They want an aim in life, some worthy 
object ; give them that, and the good and excellent which, 1 
am sure, lies hidden in their nature, will develop itself at once. 
When the young men rushed in and the girls began looking 
unutterable things, I rushed out and came home. I can't 
and won't talk nonsense and flirt with those boys ! Oh, what 
is it I do want ? Somebody who feels as I feel and thinks as I 
think ; but where shall I find the somebody? 

7///. — Frolicked with G., rushed up stairs with a glass-lamp 
in my hand, went full tilt against the door, smashed the lamp, 
got the oil on my dress, on two carpets, besides spattering the 
wall. First consequence, a horrible smell of lamp-oil ; Second, 
jjrrcat quakings, shakings, and wonderings what my ma would 
say when she came home ; Third, ablutions, groanings, iron- 
ings ; Fourth, a story for the Companion long enough to pay for 
that 'ere old lamp. Letting alone that, I've been a very good 
girl to-day ; studied, made a call, went to see H. R. with books, 
cakes, apples, and what's more, my precious tongue wherewith 
I discoursed to licr. 

i.j///.— P,usy all day. Carried a basket full of "wittles" to 
old Ma'am liurns, heard an original account of the deluge from 
the poor woman, wished I was as near heaven as she seems to 
he, studied, sewed, taught T. and E., tried to be a good girl 
and didn't have the blues once. 

20///.— Spent most of the afternoon with Lucy, who is sick. 
She held my hand in hers and kissed it over and over, and ex- 
pressed so much love and gratitude and interest in the Sunday- 
school that I felt ashamed. 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 7 1 

24//^. — Helped mother bake all the morning, studied in the 
afternoon, got into a frolic, and went out after dark with G. tc 

shovel snow, and then paddled down to L 's with a Christ- 

mts-pudding, whereby I got a real backache, legachc, neck- 
ache, and all-overache, which is just good enough for me. 1 
was in the funniest state of mind this afternoon ! I guess 
anybody, who had seen me, would have thought so ! 

25///, Saturday. — Got up early and ran down to Sally John- 
son's with a big pudding, consequence whereof a horrible pain 
in my side. I don't care, though. I do love to carry puddings 
to good old grannies. 

Jan. I, 1842. — Began the New Year by going to see Lucy, 
fainting, tumbling down flat on the floor and scaring every- 
body half out of their wits. I don't think people ought to like 
me, on the whole, but when they do, aint I glad ? I wonder if 
perfectly honest-hearted people want to be loved better than 
they deserve, as in one sense I, with yet a pretty honest heart, 
do? I wonder how other folks think, feel inside? Wish I 
knew ! 

Most of the year 1842 was passed at home in household 
duties, in study, and in trying to do good. Never had she 
been busier, or more helpful to her mother ; and never more in- 
terested in the things of God. It was a year of genuine spiritual 
growth and also of sharp discipline. The true ideal of the 
Christian life revealed itself to her more and more distinctly, 
while at the same time she had opportunity both to learn 
and to practise some of its hardest lessons. A few extracts 
from letters to her cousin will give an inkling of its character. 

March 19, 1842.— Sometimes I have thought my desire to 
live for my Saviour and to labor for Him had increased. It 
certainly seems wonderful to me now that I could ever have 
wished to die, as I used to do, when I had done nothing for God. 
The way of life which appears most attractive, is that spent in 
persevering and unwearying toil for Him. There was a warmth 
and a fervency to my religious feelings the first year after my 
true hope which I do not find now and often sigh for; but I 
think my mind is more seriously determined for God tlian it 
was then, and that my principles arc more fixed. Slill I am 



73 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

less than t'e least of all I have read not quite five can 

tos of Tasi>o. You will think me rather indolent, but I have 
had a great deal to do, which has hindered study and reading. 

J/ijj 3*/.— The Christian life was never dearer to me thaff it 
is now, l)ut it throngs with daily increasing difficulties. You, 
vho have become a believer in perfection, may say that this 
Conflict is not essential, and indeed I have been so weary, of 
iaie, of struggling that I am almost ready to fly to the doctrine 
myself. I have certainly been made more willing to seek knowd- 
edgc on this point from the Holy Spirit. 

Sf/>f. 30///. — You speak of indulging unusually, of late, in 
your natural vivacity and finding it prejudicial. Here is a 
point on which I am completely bewildered. I find that if for 
a month or two I steadily set myself to the unw^earied pursuit 
of spirituality of mind and entire weanedness from the world, 
a sad reaction wi// follow. My efforts slightly relax, I indulge 
in mirthful or worldly (in the sense of not religious) conversa- 
tion, delight in it, and find my health and spirits better for it. 
But then my spiritual appetites at once become less keen, and 
from conversation I go to reading, from reading to writing, and 
then comes the question : Am I not going back ? — and I turn 
from all to follow hard after the Lord. Is this a part of our 
poor humanity, above which we can not rise ? This is a hard 
world to live in ; and it will prove a trying one to me or I shall 
love it dearly. I have had temptations during the last six 
months on points where I thought I stood so safely that there 
was no danger of a fail. Perhaps it is good for us to be allowed 
to go to certain lengths, that we may see what wonderful sup- 
plies of grace our Lord gives us every hour of our lives. 

October \st.—\ have had two or three singular hours of ex- 
citement since I left writing to you last evening. If you were 
here I should be glad to read you a late passage in my history 
which has come to its crisis and is over with— thanks to Him, 
who so wonderfully guides me by His counsel. If I ever saw 
Lhc hand of God distinctly held forth for my help, I have ^een 
r Ih re, ('■.iniiig in the right time, in the right way, «// right. 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 73 

II. 

Returns to Richmond. Trials there. Letters. IHness. School Experiences. "To the 
Year 1843." Glimpses of her daily Life. Why her Scholars love her so. Home- 
sick. A Black Wedding. What a Wife should be. "A Presentiment." Notes 
from her Diary. 

In Novembej of this year, at the urgent soHcitation of Mr. 
Persico, Miss Payson returned to Richmond, and again became 
a teacher in his school. But everything was now changed, and 
that for the worse. Mr. Persico, no longer under the influence 
of his wife, who had fallen a prey to cruel disease, lost heart, 
fell heavily in debt, and became at length hopelessly insolvent. 
Later, he is said to have been lost at sea on his way to Italy. 
The whole period of Miss Payson's second residence in Rich- 
mond was one of sharp trial and disappointment. But it 
brought out in a very vivid manner her disinterestedness and 
the generous warmth of her sympathies. At the peril of her 
health she remained far into the summer of 1843, faithfully 
performing her duties, although, as she well knew, it was 
doubtful if she would receive any compensation for her ser- 
vices. As a matter of fact, only a pittance of her salar>' was 
ever paid. Of this second residence in Richmond no otlicr 
record is needed than a few extracts from letters written to a 
beloved friend who was passing the winter at the South, and 
whose name has already been mentioned. 

A sentence in the first of these letters deserves to be noted 
as affording a key to one side of her character, namely : '* the 
depressing sense of inferiority which was born with me." All 
her earlier years were shadowed by this morbid feeling : nor 
was she ever quite free from its influence. It was, probably, 
at once a cause and an effect of the sensitive shyness that 
clung to her to the last. Perhaps, too, it grew in part out of 
her irrepressible craving for love, coupled with utter incn'du- 
lity about herself possessing the qualities which rendered her 
so lovable. *'It is one of the faults of my character," ^he 
wrote, '^ to fancy that nobody cares for me." 

When, dear Anna, I had taken my last look at the last famil 



y^ THE LIFE OF MRS. I'RENTISS. 

iar face in Portland (I fancy you know whose face it 
yUimi's. was) I became quite as melancholy as I ever desire to 
Rkhmond ^^) even on the principle that *'by the sadness of the 
Nov. 26, ' countenance the heart is made better." I dare say you 
'^''' never had a chance to feel, and therefore will not. be 
able to understand, the depressing sense of inferiority which 
was born with me, which grew with my growth and strengthen- 
ed with my strength, and which, though somewhat repressed of 
late years, gets the mastery very frequently and makes me be- 
lieve myself the most unlovable of beings. It was with this 
feeling that I left home and journeyed hither, wondering why 
I was made, and if anybody on earth will ever be a bit the hap- 
pier for it, and whether I shall ever learn where to put myself 
in the scale of being. This is not humility, please take notice 
—for humility is contented, I think, with such things as it hath. 
When I reached Richmond last night, tired and dusty and 
stupefied, I felt a good deal like crawling away into some cran- 
ny and staying there the rest of my life ; but this morning, 
when I had remembered mother's existence and yours and that 
of some one or two others, I felt more disposed to write than 
anything else. Your note was a great comfort to me during 
two and a half hours at Portsmouth, and while on my journey. 
I thought pages to you in reply. How I should love to ha\e 
you here in Richmond, even if I could only see you once c. 
month, or kiWiL' only that you were here and never see you ! 
With many most kind friends about me, I still shall feel very 
keenly the separation from you. There is nobody here to whom 
I can speak confidingly, and my hidden spirit will have to sit 
with folded wings for eight months to come. To whom shall I 
talk about you, pray ? On the way hither I fell in love with a 
little girl who also fell in l)ve with me, and as 1 sat with her 
over our lonely firt; at Philadelphia and in Washington, I could 
not help speaking of you now and then, till at last she suddenly 
looked up and asked me if you hadn't a brother, which ques- 
tion effectually shut my mouth. In a religious point of view I 
am sadly off here. There is a different atmosphere in the house 
f.'om what there used to be, and I look forward with some 
an.xiety to the luture. 

The "liitlc L:irl " referred to received soon after a lettei 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INK) WOMANHOOD. 75 

from Miss Payson. In enclosing it to a friend, more than 
thirty-seven years later, she wrote : " I cried bitterly when she 
left us for Richmond. She was out and out good and true 
When my father was taking leave of us, the last night in 
Washington, she proposed that as we had enjoyed -o much 
together, we should not separate without a prayer of thanks 
and blessing-seeking, a proposal to which my father most 
heartily responded." Here is an extract from the letter: 

When I look over my school-room I am frequently reminded 
of you. for my thirty-six pupils are, most of them, about your 
age I have some very lovable girls under my wing. I should 
be too happy if there were no "unruly members" among these 
good and gentle ones ; but in the little world where 1 shall 
spend the greater part of the next eight months, as well as m 
the great and busy one, which as yet neither you or I know 
much about, I fancy there are mixtures of "the just and the 
uniust," of "the evil and the good." We have a very pleas- 
ant family this year. The youngest (for I omit the black baby 
in the kitchen) we call Lily. She is my pet and playthmg, and 
is quite as affectionate as you are. Then comes a damsel 
named Beatrice, who has taken me upon trust just as you did. 
You may be thankful that your parents are not like hers, for 
she is to be educated/^;- the world; music, French and Italian 
crowd almost everything else out of place, and as for religious 
influences, she is under them here for the first time. How 
thankful I feel when I see such cases as this, that God gave 
me pious parents, who taught me from my very birth, that 11 is 
fear is the beginning of wisdom ! My room-mate we call Kate. 
She is pious, intelligent, and very warm-hearted, and I love 
her dearly. She is an orphan-Mrs. Persico's daughter. .... 
I am rather affectionate by nature, if not in practice, and 
though I know that nearness to the Friend, whom I hope J 
have chosen, could make me happy in any circumstances, I do 
not pretend to be above the desire for earthly friends, prc^ idcd 
He sees fit to give them to me. I Relieve m^^ father .edo 
say that we could not love them too much, if -- ^^ > f ;^ 
Him the first place in our hearts. Let us — est!) seek U, 
make Him our all in all. It is delight ul, in the -^^^ll^'^^ 
versitles and trials, to be able to say " There is none upon earth 



^6 TIIK LIFE OF MRS. rR?:NTISS. 

that I desire besides Thee," but it requires more grace, I think 
to be able to use such language when the world is bright about 
us. You have known little of sorrow as yet, but if ycu have 
given vour whole, undivided heart to God, you will not need 
affliction, or to have your life made so desolate that '' weariness 
must loss you to His breast." There is a bright side to re- 
ligion, and I love to see Christians walking in the sunshine. I 
trust you have found this out for yourself, and that your hope 
in Christ makes you happy in the life that now is, as well as 
gives you promise of blessedness in that which is to come. 

Before she had been long in Richmond she was seized with 
an illness which caused her many painful, wearisom.e days 
and nights. Referring to this illness, in a letter to Miss 
Prentiss, she writes: 

It is dull music being sick away from one's mother, but I 
have a knack at submitting myself to my fate ; so my spirit 
was a contented one, and I was not for a moment unhappy, 
except for the trouble which I gave those who had to nurse me. 
I thought of you, at least two-thirds of the time. As my little 
pet, Lily L., said to me last night, when she had very nearly 
squeezed the breath out of my body, " I love you a great deal 
harder than I hug you " ; so I say to you— I love you harder 
than I tell, or can tell you. A happy New-Year to you, dear 
Anna. How much and how little in those few old words! 
Consider yourself kissed and good-night. 

The "New Year" was destined to be a very eventful one 
alike to her friend and to herself. She seemed to have a pre- 
sent inient of it, at least in her own case, as some lines written 
on a blank leaf of her almanac for that year attest : 

With mingling hope and trust and fear 
1 bid thee welcome, untried year ; 
The paths before me pause to view ; 
Which shall I shun and which pursue? . 
I read my fate with serious eye ; 
I see dear hopes and treasures fly, 
nehold thee on thy opening wing 
Now grief, now joy, now sorrow bring. 
God grant me grace my course to run 
With one blest prayer~///j- will be done. 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. Jl 

A little journal kept by her during the following months 
gives bright glimpses of her daily life. The entries are ver^' 
brief, but they show that while devoted to the school, she alsa 
spent a good deal of time among her books, kept up a lively 
correspondence with absent friends, and contributed her fuU 
share to the entertainment of the household by *•' holding ;oi 
rees " in her room, ''reading to the girls," writing stories foi 
them, and helping to ''play goose" and other games. 

Thanks to the Father of his Country for choosing to be born 
in Virginia ! for it orives us a holiday, and I can write 

To Miss ^ , ^ °, Tr -, , , 

Anna s. to you, dearest of Annas. You don t know how de- 
lUrhmond, lighted I was to get your long-watched-for letter 
Feb. 22, You very kindly express the wish that you could bear 
some of my school drudgery with me. I would not 
give you that, but you should have love from some of these 
warm-hearted damsels, which would make you happy even in 
the midst of toil and vexation. I can't think what makes my 
scholars love me so. I'm sure it is a gift for which I should be 
grateful, as coming from the same source with all the other 
blessings which are about me. I believe my way of governing 
is a more fatiguing one than that of scolding, fretting, and pun- 
ishing. There is a little bit of a tie between each of these 
hearts and mine— and the least mistake on my part severs it 
forever ; so I have to be exceedingly careful what I do and say. 
This keeps me in a constant state of excitement and makes my 
pulse lly rather faster than, as a pulse arrived at years of dis- 
cretion, it ought to do. I come out of school so happy, though 
half tired to death, wishing I were better, and hoping I shall 
become so ; for the more my scholars love me, the more I am 
ashamed that I am not the pink of perfection they seem to 
fancy me. 

Evening. — I have just come up here to my lonely room 
(which, if I hadn't the happiest kind of a heart in the world, 
would look right gloomy) and have read for the third time 
youi' dear, good letter, and all I wish is that I could tell you 
how I love you, and how angry I am with myself that I did not 
know and love you sooner. It seems so odd that we should 
have been born and " raised " so near each other and yet apart. 
Vou say you are a believer in destiny. So am I— particularly 



78 Tin: I.IFI-: of mrs. PTiEXTiss. 

in affairs of the heart; and I hope that we are made friends 
now for something more than the satisfaction which we find in 
loving. I am in danger of forgetting that I am to stay in this 
world only a little while and \.\i&n go home. Will you help me 
to bear it in mind ? . . . . How must the "Pilgrim's Progress " 
interest a mind that has never learned the whole book by rote 
in childhood. I have often wished I could read it as a first-told 
tale, and so I wish about the xiv. of John and some other chap- 
ters in the Bible. 

Your incidental mention that you have family prayers every 
evening produced a thousand strange sensations in my mind. 
I hardly know why. Did I ever tell you howl love and admire 
the new Bishop Johns? and how if I am a "good Presby- 
terian," as they say here, I go to hear him whenever and 
wherever he preaches. I don't think him a^§-;r^z^ man, but he 
has that sincerity and truthfulness of manner w^hich win your 
love at once.' .... What nice times you must have studying 
German ! I dreamed the night I read your account of it that I 
was with you, and that you said I w^as as stupid as an owl. I 
have the queerest mind somehow. It won't work like those of 
other people, but goes the farthest way round when it wants to 
go home, and I never could do anything with it but just let it 
have its own way, and live the longer. They are having a nice 
time down in the parlor worshipping Miss Ford, the light and 
sunshine of the house, who leaves to-morrow for Natchez, and 
I am going down to help them. So, good-night. 

Since I wrote you last we have all had a good deal to put our 
patience and philosophy and faith to the test, and I 

To the ^ ^ , , ^ 1 / 

same, must own that I have been for some weeks about as 
A[ni^. n,i(;,,,-,ifortablc as mortal damsel could be. Every- 
thing went wrong with Mr. Persico, and his gloom extended to 
all of us. I never spent such melancholy weeks in my life, and 
became so homesick that I could hardly drag myself into 
school. In the midst of it, however, I made fun for the rest, as 
believe I should do in a dungeon ; and now.it is all over, I 
look back and laugh still. 

• The Ri^ht Rev. John J.ihiis, Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia, 
was a man of .ijiostolic simplicity and zeal, and universally beloved. An almost ideal 
friendship existed between him arid Dr. Charles Hod{je, of Princeton. Dear, blessed, ola 
Joint, Dr. \\. Cvdlotl him when he was seventy-nine years old. See Life of Dr. Hudge», 
pp. 364-56.> Pisliup \)hns dieil in 1S76. 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 79 

We had a black wedding — a very black one — in my school- 
room the other night ; our cook having decided to take to her- 
self a lord and master. It was the funniest affair I evei saw. 
Such comical dresses ! such heaps of cake, wine, coffee, and 
candy ! such kissings and huggings ! The man who performed 
the ceremony prayed that they might obey each other ^ wherein I 
think lie showed his originality and good sense, too. Then he 
held a book upsidj down and pretended to read, dear knows 
what ! but the Professor — that is to say, Mrs. P. — laughed so 
loud when he said, " Will you take this 7w-man to be your wed- 
ded husband V that we all joined in full chorus, whereupon the 
poor priest (who was only the sexton of St. James') was so con- 
fused that he married them over twice. I never saw a couple 
in their station in life provided with a tenth part of the luxu- 
ries with which they abounded. We worked all day Saturday 
in the kitchen, making and icing cake for them, and a nice 
frolic we had of it, too. Do you love babies ? We have a black 
one in the lot whom I pet for want of something on which to 
expend my love. 

When I find anything that will interest the whole family, I 
read it aloud for general edification. The girls persuaded me 
into writing a story to read to them, and locked me into my 
room till it was done. It was the first love-story I ever wrote 
for hitherto 1 have not known enough about such things to be 
able to do it. This reminds me that you asked if I intend for- 
getting you after I am married. I have no sort of idea what I 
shall do, provided I ever marry. But if I ever fall in love I 
dare say I shall do it so madly and absorbingly as to become, 
in a measure and for a season, forgetful of everything and 
everybody else. Still, though I hate professions, I don't see 
how I can ever cease to love you, whatever else I forget or neg- 
lect. There is a restlessness in my affection for you that I 
don't understand — a half wish to avoid enjoyment now, that I 
may in some future time share it with you. And yet I have a 
pjesentiment-that we may have sympathy in trials of which I 
now know nothing. 

I am ashamed of myself, of late, that these subjects of love 
and matrimony find a place in my thoughts which I never have 
been in the habit of giving them, but people here talk of little 
else and I am borne on with the current. I think that to givt 



8o THE LIFK OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

nappincss in married life a woman should possess oceans of 
sclf-sacriticiiig love and I, for one, haven't half of that self-for- 
getting spirit wliicli I think essential. 

I am glad you like the " Christian Year," and I see you are 
quite an Episcopalian. Well, if you arc like the good old En- 
glish divines, nobody can find fault with your choice. Mr, 
I'ersico was brought up a Catholic but professes to be a noth^ 
ingarian now. For myself, this only I know that I earnestly 
wish all the tendencies of my heart to be heavenward, and I 
believe that the sincere inquirer after truth will be guided by 
the Infinite Mind. And so on that faith I venture myself and 
feel safe as a child may feel, who holds his father's hand. Life 
seems full of mysteries to me of late — and I am tempted to 
strange thoughtfulness in the midst of its gayest scenes. 

How true was the ''presentiment " described in this letter, 
will appear in her correspondence with the same friend more 
than a quarter of a century later. 

I believe you and I were intended to know each other bet- 

To ittna ^^^- I have found a certain something in you that I 

^. Pri-ntiss, have been wantins: all my life. While I wish 3'ou to 

June I, know me just as I am, faults and all, I can t bear to 

*^-^' think of ever seeing anything but the good and the 
beautiful in your character, dear Anna, and I believe my heart 
would break outright should I find you to be otherwise than 
just that which I imagine you are. I don't know why I am 
saying this ; but I have learned more of the world during the 
last year than in any previous half dozen of my life, and the 
result is dissatisfaction and alarm at the things I see about me. 
I wish I could always live, as I have hitherto done, under the 

shelter of my mother's wing I ought to ask your pardon 

for writing in this horrid style, but I was born to do things by 
steam, I believe, and can't do them moderately. As I write to, 
so I love you, dear Anna, with all my interests and energies 
tending to that one point. I was amused the other day with a 
young lady who came and sat on my bed when I was sick (for 
1 am just getting well from a quite serious illness), and after 
some half dozen sighs, wished she were Anna Prentiss that she 
might be loved as intensely as she desired. This is a round- 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INK) WOMANHOOD. 



81 



about way of saying how very dear you are to me. What chat- 
ter-boxes girls are ! I wonder how many times I've stopped to 
say "My dear, don't talk so much"— for I am writing in school 

June 27///.— Mr. brought "The Home" to me and I 

!iave laughed and cried over it to my heart's content. Out of 
pure self-love, because they said she was like me, I liked poor 
Petra with the big nose, best of the bunch— though, to be sure, 
they liken me to somebody or other in every book we read 
till I begin to think myself quite a bundle of contradic- 
tions. I have a thousand and one things to say to you, but I 
wonder if as soon as I see you I shall straightway turn into a 
poker, and play the stiffy, as I always do when I have been 
separated from my friends. I am writing in a little bit of a den 
which, by a new arrangement, I have all to myself. What if 
there's no table here and I have to write upon the bureau, sit- 
ting on one foot in a chair and stretching upwards to reach my 
paper like a monkey ? What do I care ? I am writing to you, 
and your spirit, invoked v.^hen I took possession of the premises, 
comes here sometimes just between daylight and dark, and 
talks to me till I am ready to put forth my hand to find yours. 
Oh! Anna, you must be everything that is pure and good, 
through to the very depths of your heart, that mine may not 
ache in finding it has loved only an imaginary being. Not that 
I expect you to be perfect— for I shouldn't love you if you were 
immaculate— but pure in aim and intention and desire, which I 
believe you to be. 

29///.- Do you want to know what mischief I've just been 

at.? There lay poor Miss , alias "Weaky" as we call her 

taking her siesta in the most innocent manner imaginable, with 
a babe-in-the-wood kind of air, which proved so highly attrac- 
tive that I could do no less than pick her up in my arms and 
pop her (I don't know but it was //^-^^ first), right into the bath- 
ing-tub which happened to be filled with fresh cold water. 
Poor, good little Weaky ! There she sits shaking and shiver- 
ing and laughing with such perfect sweet humor, that I am 
positively taking a vow never to do so again. Well, I had some- 
thing quite sentimental to say to you when I began writing, but 
as the spirit moved me to the above perpetration of nonsense, 
I've nothing left in me but fun, and for that you've no relish, 
have you ? 

6 



g2 Tin-: I.IFE OF MRS. FilKNTlSS. 

I made out to cry yesterday and thereby have so refreshed 
mv '^oiil as to be in the best possible humor just now. The 
whv and wherefore of my tears, which by the way I don't shed 
once in an age, was briefly the withdrawal from school of one 
of n-v scholars, one who had so attached herself to me as to 
have become almost a part of myself, and whom I had taught 
to love you, dear Anna, that I might have the exquisite satis- 
faction of talking about you every day— a sort of sweet inter- 
lude between grammar and arithmetic which made the dull 
hours of school grow harmonious. She had a presentiment 
that her life was to close with our school session, from which I 
couldn't move her even when her health was good, and she 
says that she prays every day, not that her life may be length- 
ened, but that she may die before I am gone. I am supersti- 
tious enough to feel that the prayer may have its answer, now 
that I sec her drooping and fading away without perceptible 
disease. The only time I ever witnessed the rite of confirma- 
tion was when the hands of the good bishop rested upon her 
head, and no wonder if I have half taken up arms in defense of 
this "laying-on of hands," out of the abundance of my heart if 
not from the wisdom of my head. Well, I've lost my mirthful 
mood, speaking of her, and don't know when it will come again. 
I have taken it into my head that you will visit Niagara 
on your way home from the South and have half a mind to go 
there myself. Did your brother bring home the poems of R. M. 
Milnes? I half hope that he did not, since I want to see you 
enj(\v them for the first time, particularly a certain " House- 
hold Brownie " story, with which I fell in love when President 
Woods sent us the volume. 

Here follow a few entries in her diary: 

May I. — Holiday. Into the country all of us, white, black, 
and gray. Sue Empie devoted herself to me like a lover and 
sc did Sue Lewis, so I was not at a loss for society. My girls 
made a bower, wherein I was ensconced and obliged to tell 
stories to about forty listeners till my tongue ached. July 
18///.— -Left Richmond. Au\;. 2d. — Left Reading for Philadelphiiu 
5///. — W illiamstown and saw mother, sister and baby. xdth. — 
President Hopkins' splendid address before the Alumni — alsc 
that of Dr. Robl)ins. 18//-. — Left Williamstown and reached 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 83 

Nonantum House at night. Saw Aunt Willis, Julia, Sarah, 
Ellen, etc. 22^. — Came home, oh so very happy ! Dear, good 
home ! 23^. — Callers all day, the second of whom was Mr. P 
There have been nineteen people here and I'm tired ! 25//;. — 
What didiit I hear from Anna P. to-day! 31^/. — Rode v\iili 
Anna P. to Saccarappa to see Rev. Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Smith- 
took tea at the P.s and went with them to the Preparatory 
Lecture. I do nothing but go about from place to place. 
Sept. \st. — Just as cold as cold could be all day. Spent evening 
at Mrs. B.'s, talking with Neal Dow. 9///. — Cold and blowy and 
disagreeable. Went to see Carrie H. Came home and found 
Mr. P. here ; he stayed to tea — read us some interesting things 
— told us about Mary and William Howitt. 10///. — Our church 
was re-opened to-day. Mr. Dw4ght preached in the morning 
and Mr. Chickering in the afternoon, 

September nth she marked with a white stone and kept 
ever after as one of the chief festal days of her life, but of the 
reason why there is here no record. The diary for the rest of 
the year is blank with the exception of a single leaf which 
contains these sentences: 

" Celle qui a besoin d'admirer ce qu'elle aime, celle, dont le 
jugement est penetrant, bien que son imagination exalte'e, il 
n'ya pour elle qu'un objet dans I'univers." 

'' Celui qu'on aime, est le vengeur des fautes qu'on a commis 
sur cette terre ; la Divinite lui prete son pouvoir." 

Mad. de Stael. 



III. 

Her Views of Love and Courtship. Vi?it of her Sister and Child. Letters. Sickncsi 
and Death of Friends. Ill-IIeallh. Undergoes a Surfjical Operalion. iler Forti- 
tude. Study of German. Feuelon. 

The records of the next year and a half are very abundant, 
in the form of notes, letters, verses and journals; but they are 
mostly of too private a character to furnish materials for this 
narrative, belon^in^ to what she called " the deep story ot my 



34 nil-: l-ll'H <'!•■ M1<S. PRENTISS. 

heart." 'Ihcy breathe the sweetness and sparkle with the 
morninL,^ dew of the affections; and while some of them are 
full of fun and playful humor, others glow with all the im- 
passioned earnestness of her nature, and others still w ith deep 
rehi^ious feeling. She wrote : 

My heart seems to me somewhat like a very full church at 
the close of the services— the great congregation of my affec- 
tions trying to find their way out and crow^ding and hindering 
each other in the general rush for the door. Don't you see 
them— the young ones scampering first down the aisle, and the 
old and grave and stately ones coming with proud dignity after 
them ?....! feel now that " dans les mysteres de notre nature 
aimer, encore aimer, est ce qui nous est rest^ de notre heritage 
ct-leste," and oh, how I thank God for my blessed portion of 
this celestial endowment ! 

Love in a word was to her, after religion, the holiest and 
most wonderful reality of life ; and in the presence of its 
mysteries she was — to use her own comparison — '' like a child 
standing upon the seashore, watching for the onward rush of 
the waves, venturing himself close to the water's edge, holding 
his breath and wooing their approach, and then, as they come 
dashing in, retreating with laughter and mock fear, only to 
return to tempt them anew." Her only solicitude was lest 
the new interest should draw her heart away from Him who 
had been its chief joy. In a letter to her cousin, she touches 
on this point : 

You know how by circumstances my affections have been 
repressed, and now, having found liberty to love, I am tempted 
to seek my heaven in so loving. But, my dear cousin, there is 
nothing worth having apart from God ; I feel this every day 
more and more and the fear of satisfying myself with some- 
thing short of Him — this is my only anxiety. This drives me 
to the throne of His grace and makes me refuse to be left on a 
moment to myself. I believe I desire first of all to love God 
supremely and to do something for Him, if He spares my life 



Earl)' in December her sister, Mrs. Hopkins, witl 



1 an m. 



FASSINC; FROM CIRl.HOOD INTO WOMAXHOOD. 85 

fant boy, came to Portland aivl passed a part of tlie winter 
under tlie maternal roof. The arrival of this boy— her moth, 
er's first grandchild— was an event in the family history. Here 
is her own picture of the scene : 

It was a cold evening-, and grandmamma, who had been sitting by the 
firs, knittino^ and reading, had at last let her book fall from her lap. and had 
dropped to sleep in her chair. The four uncles sat around the table, two ol 
them playing chess, and two looking on, while Aunt Fanny, with her cat on 
her knees, studie.l German a little, looked at the clock very often, ar.d 
started at every noise. 

"I hive said, all along, that they wouldn't come," she cried at last. 
"The clock has just struck nine, and I am not going to expect them any 
longer. I kjicw Herbert would not let Laura undertake such a journey in 
the depth of winter; or, at any rate, that Laura's courage would fail at the 
last moment." 

She had hardly uttered these words, when there was a ring at the door- 
bell, then a stamping of feet on the mat, to shake off the snow, and in they 
came, Lou, and Lou's papa, and Lou's mamma, bringing ever so much 
fresh, cold air with them. Grandmamma woke up, and rose to meet them 
with steps as lively as if she were a young girl ; Aunt Fanny tossed the cat 
from her lap, and seized the bundle that held the baby , the four uncles 
crowded about her, eager to get the first peep at the little wonder. There 
was such a laughing, and such a tumult, that poor Lou, coming out of the 
dark night into the bright room, and seeing so many strange faces, did not 
know what to think. When his cloaks and shawls and capes were at last 
pulled off by his auntie's eager hands, there came into view a serious little 
face, a pair of bright eyes, and a head as smooth as ivory, on which there 
was not a single hair. His sleeves were looped up with corals, and showed 
his plump white arms, and he sat up very straight, and took a good look 
at everybody. 

" What a perfect little beauty ! " " What sp/endul tyts ! " " What a 
lovely skin ! " " He's the perfect image of his father ! " " Wt'^ exactly like 
his mother ! " '* What a dear little nose ! " " What fat little hands, full 
of dimples ! " " Let me take him ! " " Come to his own grandmamma I " 
"Let his uncle toss him — so he will ! " "What does he cat?" " Ls he 
tired ?" " Now, Fanny ! you've had him ever since he came ; he wants 10 
come to me ; I know he does ! " 

These, and nobody knows how many more exclamations of the sort, 
greeted the ears of the little stranger, and were received by him with un- 
ruffled gravity. 

"Aunt Fanny" devoted herself during the following weeks 
to the care of her little nephew. Her letters written at the 



86 TIIF. I.IFK OF MRS. PRENTISS 

time— some of them with him in her arms— are full of hig 
pretty ways ; and when, more than a score ot years later, he 
had <Tiven his young life to his country and was sleeping in a 
soldier's grave, his '' sayings and doings " formed the subject 
of one of her most attractive juvenile books. 

A few extracts from her letters will give glimpses of her 
slate of mind during this winter, and show also how the 
thoughtful spirit, which from the first tempered the excite- 
ments of her new experience, was deepened by the loss of very 
dear friends. 

PoRTLAt^D, Di'cemder g. 1843. 

Last evening I spent at Mrs. H. 's with Abby and a 

crowd of other people. John Neal told me I had a great bump 
of love of approbation, and conscientiousness very large, and 
self-esteem hardly any ; and that he hoped whoever had most 
influence over me would remedy that evil. He then went on to 
pay me the most extravagant compliments, and said I could 
become distinguished in any way T pleased. Thinks I to my- 
self, "I should like to be the best little wife in the woild, and 
that's the height of my ambition." Don't imagine now that I 
believe all he says, for he has been saying just such things to 
me since I was a dozen years old, and I don't see as I am any 
great things yet. Do you ? 

/an. T,d, 1844.— Sister is still here and will stay with us a 
month or two yet. Her husband has gone home to preach and 
pray himself into contentment without her. Though he w^as 
here only a week, his quiet Christian excellence made us all 
long to grow better. It is always the case when he comes, 
though he rather lives than talks his religion. I never saw, as 
far as piety is concerned, a more perfect specimen of a man in 
his every-day life. 

Do you pra/ for me every night and every morning? Don't 
forget how I comfort myself with thinking that you every day 
a>k for mc those graces of the Spirit which I so long for. In- 
deed, I have had lately such heavenward yearnings ! . . . . 
Why do you ask // I pray for you, as if I could love you and /ic/Jt 
praying for you continually and always. I have no light sense of 
the holiness a Christian minister should possess. I half wish 
there were no veil upon my heart on this point, that you might 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 87 

see how, from the very first hour of your return from abroad, my 
interest in you went hand-in-hand with this looking iipwaj-d. 

Jan. 22d. — We have all been saddened by the repeated trials 
with which our friends the Willises are visited this winter. Mrs. 
Willis is still very ill, and there is no hope of her recovery ; and 
Ellen, the pet of the whole household — the always happy, lovin^r, 
beautiful young thing — who had been full of deligh. in the 
hope of becoming a mother, lies now at the point of death ; 
having lost her infant, and with it her bright anticipations. 
For fourteen years there had not been a physician in their 
house, and you may imagine how they are all now taken, as it 
were, by surprise by the first break death has threatened to 
make in their peculiarly happy circle. Our love for ail the 
family has grown with our growth and strengthened with our 
strength, and what touches them we all feel. 

Feb. 8///. — How is it that people who have no refuge in God 
live through the loss of those they love? I am very sad this 
morning, and almost wish I had never loved you or anybody. 
Last night we heard of the death of Julia Willis' sister, and 
this morning learn that a dear little girl in whom we all were 
much interested, and whom I saw on Saturday only slightly 
unwell, is taken away from her parents, who have no manner 
of consolation in losing this only child. There is a great cloud 
throughout our house, and we hardly know what to do with 
ourselves. When I met mother and sister yesterday on my re- 
turn from your house, I sav. that something was the matter of 
which they hesitated to tell me ; and of whom should I natur- 
ally think but of you— you in whom my life is bound up ; and, 
when mother finally came to put her arms around me, I suf- 
fered for the moment that intensity of anguish which I should 
feel in knowing that something dreadful had befallen you. She 
told me, however, of poor Ellen's death, and I was so lost in re- 
covering you again that I cared for nothing else all the even- 
ing, and until this morning had scarcely thought of the aching, 
aching hearts she has left behind. Her poor young husband, 
v\ho loved her so tenderly, is half-distracted. 

Oh, I have blessed God to-day that until He had given me 
a sure and certain hold upon Himself, He had not suffered me 
to love as I love now ! It is a mystery wliich I can not under- 
stand, how the heart can live on through the moment which 



88 iiii: i.iKi: <>r mrs. prkntiss. 

rends it asunder froin that of which it has become a part, ex- 
cept t)y hiding itself in God. I have felt Ellen's death the 
more, because she and her husband were associated in my mind 
with you. I hardly know how or why ; but she told me much 
of the history of her heart when I saw her last summer on my 
way h .-me from Richmond, at the same time that she spoke 
much of you. She had seen you at our house before you went 
abroad, and seemed to have a sort of presentiment that we 
should love each other. 

But I ought to beg you to forgive me for sending you this 
gloomy page ; yet I was restless and wanted to tell you the 
thoughts that have been in my heart towards you to-day — the 
serious and saddened love with which I love you, when I think 
of you as one whom God may take from me at any moment. I 
do not know that it is unwise to look this truth in the face 
sometimes — for if ever there was heart tempted to idolatry, to 
giving itself up fully, utterly, with perfect abandonment of 
every other hope and interest, to an earthly love, so is mine 
tempted now. 

Feb. 13//^. — Mother is going to Boston with sister on Satur- 
day, provided I am well enough (which I mean to be), as Mrs. 
Willis has expressed a strong wish to see her once more. We 
heard from them yesterday again. Poor Ellen's coffin was 
placed just w^here she stood as a bride, less than eight months 
ago, and her little infant rested on her breast. There is rarely 
a death so universally mourned as hers ; she was the most w^in- 
ning and attractive young creature I ever saw. 

Feb. 2ist. — Are you in earnest? Are you in earnest? Are 
you really coming home in March ? I am afraid to believe, 
afraid to doubt it. I am crying and laughing and writing all 
at once. You would not tell me so unless you really were com- 

ws^ I know And you are coming home ! (How madly 

my heart is beating ! lie still, w^ill you ?) I almost feel that you 
a-e h:rc and that you look over my shoulder and read while I 
write. Are you sure that you will come ? Oh, don't repent and 
send me another letter to say that you will wait till it is pleas- 
antcr weather ; it is pleasant now. I walked out this morning, 
and the air was a spring air, and gentlemen go through the 
streets with their cloaks hanging over their arms, and there is 
a constant plashing against the windows, of water dripping 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 89 

down from the melting snow ; yes, I verily believe that it is 
warm, and that the birds will sing soon — I do, upon my word 
.... I wouldn't have the doctor come and feel my pulse thij 
afternoon for anything. He would prescribe fever powders or 
fever drops, or something of the sort, and bleed me and send 
me to bed, or to the insane iiospital ; I don't know which. [ 
could cry, sing, dance, laugh, all at once. Oh, that I knew 
exactly when you will be here — the day, the hour, the minute, 
that I might know to just what point to govern my impatient 
heart — for it would be a pity to punish the poor little thing too 
severely. I have been reading to-day something which delighted 
me very much ; do you remember a little poem of Goethe's, in 
which an imprisoned count sings about the flower he loves 
best, and the rose, the lily, the pink, and the violet, each in turn 
fancy themselves the objects of his love.' You see I put you 
in the place of the prisoner at the outset, and I was to be the 
flower of his love, whatever it might be. Well, it was the " For- 
get-me-not." If there were a flower called the "Always-loving," 
maybe I might find out to what order and class I belong. 
Dear me ; there's the old clock striking twelve, and I verily 
meant to go to bed at ten, so as to sleep away as much of the 
time as possible before your coming, but I fell into a fit of lov- 
ing meditation, and forgot everything else. You should have 
seen me pour out tea to-night ! Why, the first thing I knew, I 
had poured it all out into my own cup till it ran over, and half 
filled the waiter, which is the first time I ever did such a ridicu- 
ous thing in my life. But, dearest, I bid you good night, pray- 
ing you may have sweet dreams and an inward promptin^^ to 
write me a long, long, blessed letter, such as shall make me 
dance about the house and sing. 

Feb. 22d. — Oh, I am frightened at myself, I am so happy ! 
It seems as if even this whole folio would not in the least con- 
rey to you the gladness with which my heart is dancing and 
jinging and making merry. The doctor seems quite satisfied 
with my shoulder, and says ^^ li's first-rate j" so set your heart 
at rest on that point. I hope there'll be nobody within two 
miles of our meeting. Suppose you stop in some out of the 
way place just out of town, and let me trot out there to see 
you ? Oh, are you really coming? 

' Das Elumlcin Wunderschon. Lied des ge/angenen Cra/etr, is the title of tiie poem 
Goetlie'= Samtliche Werke. Vol. I., p. 151, . » 



^ THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

I must write a few lines to tell you, my dear cousin, that 1 
am thinking of and praying for you on your birth- 
'^%?archt day. I have but one request to offer either for you 
'^^' or for myself, and that is for more love to our Re- 
deemer. I bless God that I have no other want I do 

not know why it is, but I never have thought so much of death 
and of the certainty that I, sooner or later, must die, as within 
a few months past. I am not exactly superstitious, but this 
daily and hourly half-presentiment that my life will not be a 
long one, is singularly subduing, and seems to lay a restraining 
hand upon future plans. I am not sorry, whatever may be the 
event, that it is so. I dread clinging to this world and seeking 
my rest in it. I am not afraid to die, or afraid that anything I 
love may be taken from me ; I only have this serious and 
lh.)ughtful sense of death upon my mind. You know how we 
have loved the Willis family, and can imagine how w^e felt the 
death of their youngest daughter, who was dear to everybody. 
And Mrs. Willis is, probably, not living. This has added to 
my previous feeling on the subject, which was, perhaps, first 
occasioned by the sudden and terrible loss of my poor friend 
Mr. Thatcher, a year ago this month.' God forbid I should 
ever forget the lessons He saw I needed, and dare to feel that 
there is a thing upon earth which death may not touch. Oh, 
in how many ways He has sought to w^in my whole heart for 
His own I 

March 22d.—\ was interrupted last night by the arrival of 
G. L. P., after his four months' absence in Mississippi, im- 
prc^'cd in health, and in looks, and in spirits, and quite as glad 
to see me, I believe, as even you, in your goodness of heart, 
say my lover ought to be. But I will tell you the truth, my 
dear cousin, I am afraid of love. There is no other medium, 
save that of the happiness of loving and being loved, by which 
my affections could be effectually turned from divine to earthier 
tilings. Am I not then on dangerous ground? Yet God merci- 
fully sIkjws me that it is so, and when I think how He has saved 
mc hitherto through sharp temptations, it seems wicked dis- 
trust of Him, not to feel that He will save me through those 
to come. I know now there are some of the great lessons of 
\ife yet to be learned ; I believe I must suffer as long as I have 

' See appendix A, p. 533. 



PASSING FROM CIRLHOOD INTO WOMANHOOD. 91 

an earthly existence. Will not then God mal<e that suffering 
but as a blessed reprover to bring me nearer Himself? 1 
hope so. 

During the winter her health had become so much im 
paired, that great anxiety was felt as to the issue. In a letter 
to her friend, Miss Ellen Thurston, dated April 20, i8.^., she 
writes : 

You remember, perhaps, that on the afternoon you were si. 
good as to come and spend with me, I was making a fuss about 
a little thing on my shoulder. Well, I had at last to have 't 
removed, and though the operation was not in itself very pain- 
tul, its effects on my whole nervous system have been most 
powerful. I have lost all regular habits of sleep — for a week 
I do not know that I slept two hours — and am ready to fly into 
a fit at the bare thought of sitting still long enough to write a 
common letter. I have, however, the consolation of being 
pitied and consoled with, as there's something in the idea of 
cutting at the flesh which touches the heart, a thousand times 
more than some severer sufferings would do. I am getting 
quite thin and weak upon it, and I believe mother firmly ex- 
pects me to shrink into nothing, though I am a pretty bounc- 
ing girl still. 

Owing to some mishap the healing process was entirel} 
thwarted, and after a very trying summer, the operation had 
to be repeated. This time it was performed by that eminent 
surgeon and admirable Christian man, Dr. John C. Warren of 
Boston, assisted by his son, Dr. J. M. W. Dr. Warren told 
Miss Payson's friend, who had accompanied an invalid sister 
to New York, that he thought it would require "about five 
minutes;" but it proved to be much more serious than he 
had anticipated. Miss Willis, in her letter from Geneva al- 
ready quoted, thus refers to it : 

My next meeting with Lizzy revealed a strikinj^ trait of her character, 
Jvhich hitherto I had had no opportunity of obser\in,<^ — her wonderful foi- 
titude under suffering. I was at the seashore with my sister and family 
when, her little child being taken suddenly very ill in the night, I went up 
to Boston by an early train to bring down as soon as possible our family 
physician. On arriving at his house I was disappointed at being told thai 



Cy2 THE LIFE OF MRS. Pi^ENTISS. 

he could not come at once, being engaged to perform an operation that 
morning. While waiting for the return train, I called at my father's office 
and was surprised to hear that Lizzy was the patient. A painful tumor hnd 
developed itself on the back of her neck, and she had come up with her 
mother tc Boston to consult Dr. Warren, who had advised its immediate 
removal, 

1 went at once to see her. She greeted me with even more than her 
usjal warmth and after stating in a few words the object of her coming to 
Boston and that she was expecting the doctors every moment, she added : 
" You will stay with me, I am sure. Mother insists on being present, but 
she can not bear it. She will be sure to faint. If you will promise to stay, 
I ran persuade her to remain in the next room." Seeing the distress in my 
face at the request, she said, " I will be very good. You will have nothing 
to do but sit in the room, to satisfy mother." It v; is impossible to refuse 
and I remained. There was no chloroform then to give blessed unconscious- 
ness of suffering and every pang had to b: endured, but she more than 
kept her promise to " be good." Not a sound or a movement betrayed 
sufiering. She spoke only once. After the knife was laid aside and the 
threaded needle was passed through the quivering flesh to draw the gaping 
edges of the wound together, she asked, after the first stitch had been com- 
pleted, in a low, almost calm tone, with only a slight tremulousness, how many 
more were to be taken. When the operation was over, and the surgeons 
were preparing to depart, she questioned them minutely as to the mark 
which would be left after healing. I was surprised that she could think of 
it at such a moment, knowing how little value she had always set on her 
personal appearance, but her mother explained it afterward by referring to 
her betrothal to you, and the fear that you would find the scar disfiguring.' 

Ill a letter to Mrs. Stearns,"' she herself writes, Sept. 6: 

I had no idea of the suffering which awr.ited me. I thought 
I should get off as I did the first time. But I have a great 

' Tlie liorrible operation is over, Heaven be praised ! It was far more horrible than 
we liad anticipated. They were an hour and a quarier, before all was done. I was 
vcr>' brave at first and wouldn't leave the room, but I found myself so faint that I feaied 
falling: and luid to po. Lizzy behaved like a heroine indeed, so that even the doctors ad- 
mired her fortitude. She never spoke, but was deadly faint, so that they were obliged to 
lay Imr down that tlie dreadful wound migfht bleed ; tlien there was an artery to be taken 
up and lied ; then six stitches to be taken with a great bif,' needle. Most providentially 
dsat Julia Willis came in about ten minutes before the doctors and though she was 

Krealy distressed, she never faints, and stail till Lizzy was laid in bed She was 

ill^t like .1 marble slatuo, but even more beautiful, while the blood stained her slioulders 
and bosom. You couldn't have looked on such suffering without fainting, man that you 
%TQ.—rrovt a letter of Mrs. Payson, dated Boston, Sept. 2, 18^4. 

" Her friend, Miss Prentiss, had been man led, in the previous autumn, to the Rev 
lonathan V. Stearns, of Xewburyport. 



PASSING FROM GIRLHOOD INT(.) WOMANHOOD. 93 

deal to be thankful for. On Wednesday, to my infinite sur- 
prise and gladness, George pounced down upon me from New 
York, having been quite cut to the heart by the account mother 
gave him. Everybody is so kind, and I have had so many let 
tcrs, and seen so many sympathising faces, and "dear Lizzy' 
sounds s^ sweet to my insatiable ears ; and yet — and yet — 1 
would rather die than live through the forty-eight hou .i again 
which began on Monday morning. Somebody must have 
prayed for me, or I never should have got through. 

An extract from another of her letters, dated Portland, 
September nth, belongs here: 

I must tell you, too, about Dr. Warren (the old one). When 
mother asked him concerning the amount he was to receive 
from her for his professional services, he smiled and said : " I 
shall not charge/^// much, and as for Miss Payson, when she is 
married and rich, she may pay me and welcome — but not till 
then." I told him I never expected to be rich, and he replied, 
with what mother thought an air of contentment that said he 
knew all about it: "Well, we can be hap|)y without riches," 
and such a good, happy smile shone all over his face as I have 
seldom been so fortunate as to see in an old man. As for the 
young one, he seemed as glad when I was dressed on Sunday 
with a clean frock and no shawl, as if it were really a matter 
of consequence to him to see his patients looking comfortable 
and well. I am getting along finely ; there is only one spot on 
my shoulder which is troublesome, and they ordered me on a 
very strict diet for that — so I am half-starved this blessed min- 
ute. We went to Newbury port on Monday, and stayed there 
with Anna till yesterday afternoon. I think the motion of the 
cars hurt me somewhat, but by the time you get here I do hope 
I shall be quite w^ell. 

Evening. — .... I have had such happy thoughts and 
pi-ayers to-night ! You should certainly have knelt with me in 
my little room, where, for the first time a year ago this even- 
ing, I asked God to bless us j and you too, perhaps, then began 
first to pray for me. Oh, what a wonderful time it was ! . . . . 
I hope you have prayed for me to-day — I don't mean as you al- 
ways do, but with new prayers wherewith to begin tlic new 
year. God bless you and love you ! 



p4 THF. I-IFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

But this period was also one of large mental growth. It 
was marked especially by two events that had a shaping influ- 
ence upon both her intellectual and religious character. One 
was the study of German. She was acquainted already with 
French and Italian ; she now devoted her leisure hours to the 
language and works of Schiller and Goethe. These opened to 
her a new world of thought and beauty. Her correspondence 
contains frequent allusions to the progress of her German read- 
ing. Here is one in a letter to her cousin : 

I have read George Herbert a good deal this winter. I have 
also read several of Schiller's plays — William Tell and Don 
Carlos among the rest — and got a great deal more excited over 
them than I have over anything for a long while. George has 
a large German library, but I don't suppose I shall be much the 
wiser for it, unless I turn to studying theology. Did you read 
in Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, the " Bekenntnisse einer schonen 
Seele " ? I do think it did my soul good when I read it last 
July. The account she gives of her religious history reminded 
me of mine in some points very strongly. 

The other incident was her introduction to the writings of 
Fenelon — an author whom, in later years, she came to regard 
as an oracle of spiritual wisdom. In the letter just quoted, 
she writes: '* I am reading Fenelon's ' Maximes des Saints,' 
and many of his ideas please me exceedingly. Some of his 
• Lettres Spirituelles ' are delicious — so heavenly, so child-like 
in their spirit." ' 

' " Kxplication dcs Maximes des Saints snr la Vie Interieure" is the full title of the 
famous little work first named. It appeared in January, 1697. If measured by the 
storm it raised in France and at Rome, or by the attention it attracted throughout Eu- 
roix-, its publication may be said to have been one of the most impoilant thet)logical 
events f)f that day. The eloquence of Possuet and the power of Louis XIV. were t(v 
f:cther exerted to the utmost in order to brand its illustrious author as a heretical Qui- 
Kist ; and, tluough their almost frantic efforts, it was at last condemned in a papal biief. 
But. for nil tliat, the little work is full of the noblest Christian sentiments. It pushes the 
scK.triiie :)f pure love, perhaps, to a perilous extreme, but still an extreme that leans to the 
side of the liip^hcst virtue. After its condemnation the Pope, Innocent XII., wrote to the 
trench prelates, who had been most prominent in denouncing Fenelon: Peccavit ex- 
cesiu amuris divitii, sed vos peccdstis dc/ectu amoris proxiini—i.e.^ " He has erred bj 
too much love cf God, but ye have erred by too litUe love of your neighbor." 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. 

1845-1850. 

I. 

Marriage and Settlement in New Bedford. Reminiscences. Letters. Birth of her Firsl 
Child. Death of her Sister-in-Law. Letters. 

On the 1 6th of April, 1845, Miss Payson was married to 
the Rev. George Lewis Prentiss, then just ordained as pastor 
of the South Trinitarian church in New Bedford, Mass. Here 
she passed the next five and a half years ; years rendered 
memoTable by precious friendships formed in them, by the 
birth of two of her children, by the death of her mother, and 
by other deep joys and sorrows. New Bedford was then 
known, the world over, as the most important centre of the 
whale-fishery. In quest of the leviathans of the deep its ships 
traversed all seas, from the tumbling icebergs of the Arctic 
Ocean to the Southern Pacific. But it was also known nearer 
home for the fine social qualities of its people. Many of the 
original settlers of the town were Quakers, and its character 
had been largely shaped by their friendly influence. Hus- 
bands and wives, whether young or old, called each other ev- 
erywhere by their Christian names, and a charming simplicity 
marked the daily intercourse of life. Into this attractive so- 
ciety Mrs. Prentiss was at once welcomed. The Arnold fam- 
ily in particular — a family representing alike the fricndl}' si)irit, 
the refinement and taste, the wealth, and the generous hospi- 
tality of the place — here deserve mention. Their kindness 
was unwearied; flowers and fruit came often from their splen- 
did garden and greenhouses ; and, in various other wa}'s, they 

(95) 



96 THi: I.IFi; OF MKS. PRENTISS. 

contributed from the moment of her coming to render New 
Bedford a pleasant home to her. 

But it was in her husband's parish that she found her chief 
interest and joy. His people at first welcomed her in the 
warmest manner on her sainted father's account, but they 
soon learned to love her for her own sake. She early began 
to manifest among them that wonderful sympathy, which 
made her presence like sunshine in sick rooms and in the 
house of mourning, and, in later years, endeared her through 
her writings to so many hearts. While her natural shyness 
and reserve caused her to shrink from everything like public 
ity, and even from that leadership in the more private activi- 
ties of the church which properly belonged to her sex and sta- 
tion, any kind of trouble instantl} aroused and called into play 
all her energies. The sickness and death of little children 
wrought upon her w^ith singular powder ; and, in ministering 
aid and comfort to bereaved mothers, she seemed like one 
specially anointed of the Lord for this gentle ofifice. Now, 
after the lapse of more than a third of a century, there are 
tliose in New Bedford and its vicinity who bless her memory, 
as they recall scenes of sharp affliction cheered by her pres- 
ence and her loving sympathy. 

The following reminiscences by one of her New Bedford 
friends, written not long after her death, belong here : 

Oh, ihat I had the pen of a ready writer ! How gladly would I depict 
her just as she came to New Bedford, a youthful bride and our pastor's 
wife, more than a third of a century ago ! My remembrances of her are 
still frrsh and ilclightful ; l)ut they have been for so many years silent 
mrmori.-s that 1 feci (|uite unable fully to express them. And yet I will try to 
j(ivc you a fi-w simple details. Several things strike me as I recall her in those 
d.iys. Our early experiences in the struggle of life had been somewhat 
sitnilar and this drew us near to each other. She was naturally very shy 
and in the presence of strangers, or of uncongenial persons, her reserve was 
almost painful ; but with her friends— especially those of her own sex— all 
this vanished and she was full of animated talk. Her conversation abound- 
ed in bright, pointed sayings, in tine little touches of humor, in amusing 
anecd<it(S and incidents of her own experience, which she related with 
astonishing ease and fluency, sometimes also in downright girlish fun and 
drollery ; and nil was rendered douWy attractive by her low, sweet woman'? 



THE YOP.\(; wipy. ^^h MOTHER. 9- 

voice and her mer^. fitful laugh. Yet these thin.^s were but the sparkle of 
a very deep and serious nature. Even then her religious character was to 
me wonderful. She seethed always to know just what was prompting her 
whether nature or grace ; and her perception of the workings ot the tw,') 
pr.ncples was like an instinct. While I, though cherishing a Christian 
hope, was still struggling in bondage under the law, she appeared to enjoy 
to the full the glorious liberty of the children of God. And when I would 
say to her that I was constantly doing that which I ought not and leavin- 
undone so much that I ought to do, she would try to comfort me and to 
encourage me to exercise more faith by responding, "Oh, you don't know 
what a great smner I am ; but Christ's love is greater still." There was -, 
helpful, assunng, sunshiny influence about her piety which I have rardy 
seen or felt in any other human being. And almost daily, during all ,he 
years of separation, I have been conscious of this influence in my own hT.- 
I remember her as very retiring in company, even among our own peo- 
ple Put If there were children present, she would gather them about her 
and hold them spell-bound by her talk. Oh, she was a marvellous story- 
teller ! How often have I seen her in the midst of a little group, who all 
eyes and ears, gazed into her face and eagerly swallowed every word, while 
she, intent on amusing them, seemed quite unconscious that anyborly else 

was m the room. Mr. H used to say. " How I envy those children and 

wish J were one of them ! " 

Mrs. Prentiss received much attention from persons outside of our con- 
gregation, and who, from their position and wealth, were pretty exclusive 
in their habits. But they could not resist the attraction of her rare ^nUs 
and accomplishments. New Bedford at that time, as you know had a 
good deal of intellectual and social culture. This was particularly the case 
among the Unitarians, whose minister, when you came to us. was that ex- 
cellent and very superior man, the Rev. Ephraim Peabodv, D.D., afterwards 
of King's Chapel in Boston. One of the leading families of his flock was 
the "Arnold family." whose garden and grounds were then among the 
finest in the State and at whose house such men as Richard H. Dana the 
poet, the late Professor Agassiz. and others eminent for their literary' and 
scientific attainments, were often to be seen. This whole family were 
warmly attached to Mrs. Prentiss, and after you left New Bedford, often 
relerred to their acquaintance with her in the most affectionate manner 
And I believe Mr. Arnold and his daughter used to visit vou in New York. 
The lather, mother, daughter, and aunt are all gone. And what a chan-e 
have all these vanished years wrought in the South Trinitarian society ! "l 
can think ot only six families then worshipping there, that are worshippinj; 
there now. But so long as a single one remains, the memory of .Mrs! 
Prentiss will still be precious in the old church. 

The story of the New Bedford years may be told, with 
7 



p8 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

slight additions here and there, by Mrs. Prentiss' own pen. 
Most of her letters to her own family are lost ; but the letters 
to her husband, when occasionally separated from her, and 
others to old friends, have been preserved and afford an almost 
continuous narrative of this period. A few extracts from 
some of those written in 1845, ^^^^^ show in what temper of 
mind she entered upon her new life. The first is dated Port- 
land, January loth, just after Mr. Prentiss received the call to 
New Bedford : 

I have wished all along, beyond anything else, not so much 
that we might have a pleasant home, pleasant scenery and 
circumstances, good society and the like, as that we might have 
good, holy influences about us, and God's grace and love within 
us. And for you, dear George, I did not so much desire the 
intellectual and other attractions, about which we have talked 
sometimes, as a dwelling-place among those whom you might 
train heavenward or who would not be a hindrance in your 
journey thither. Through this whole affair I know I have 
thought infinitely more of you than of myself. And if you are 
happy at the North Pole shan't I be happy there too ? I shall 
be heartily thankful to see you a pastor with a people to love 
you. Only I shall be jealous of them. 

To her friend. Miss Thurston, she writes from New Bedford, 
April 28th : 

I thank you with all my heart for your letter and for the 
very pretty gift, which I suppose to be the work of your own 
hands. I can not tell you how inexpressibly dear to me are all 
the expressions of affection I have received and am receiving 
from old friends. We have been here ten days, and very happy 
days they have been to me, notwithstanding I have had to see 
so many strange faces and to talk to so many new people. And 
l)0th my sister and Anna'tell me that the first months of mar- 
ried life are succeeded by far happier ones still ; so I shall go 
on my way rejoicing. As to what your brother says about dis- 
appointment, nobody believes his doctrine better than I do ; 
but life is as full of blessings as it is of disappointments, I con- 
ceive, and if we only know how. we may often, out of mere 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. 95 

ivill^ get the former instead of the latter. I have had some ex- 
perience of the "conflict and dismay" of this present evil 
world ; but then I have also had some of its smiles. Neither 
of these ever made me angry with this life, or in love with it. 
I believe I am pretty cool and philosophical, but it won't do for 
me at this early day to be boasting of what is in me. I shall 
have to wait till circumstances bring it out. I can only answer 
for the past and the present — the one having been blessed and 
gladdened and the other being made happy and cheerful by 
lover and husband. I'll tell you truly, as I promised to do, if 
my heart sings another tune on the 17th of April, 1848. I only 
hope I shall enter soberly and thankfully on my new life, ex- 
pecting sunshine and rain, drought and plenty, heat and cold — 
and adapting myself to alternations contentedly — but who 
knows ? We are boarding at a hotel, which is not over pleasant. 
However, we have two good rooms and have home things about 
us. I like to sit at work while Mr. Prentiss writes his sermons 
and he likes to have me— so, for the present, a study can be 
dispensed with. In a few weeks we hope to get to housekeep- 
ing. I like New Bedford very much. 

To her husband she writes, June 18 : 

I can not help writing you again, though I did send you a 
letter last night. It is a very pleasant morning, and I think of 
you all the time and love you with the happiest tears in my 
eyes. I have just been making some nice crispy gingerbread 
to send Mrs. H , as she has no appetite, and I thought any- 
thing from home would taste good to her. I hope this will 
please you. Mother called with me to see her yesterday. She 
looks very ill. I have no idea she will ever get well. We had 
a nice time at the garden last night. Mr. and Miss Arnold 
came out and walked with us nearly an hour, though tea was 
waiting for them, and Miss A. was very particularly attentive 
to me (for your dear sake !), and gave me flowers, beautiful ones, 
and spcke with much interest of your sermons. Oh, I am ready 
to jump for joy, when I think of seeing you home again. Do 
please be glad as I am. I suppose your mother wants you too ; 
but then she can't love you as I do— I'm sure she can't— with 
all the children amo:ig whom she has to divide her heart. Give 
my best love to her and Abby. How I wish I were in Portland 



lOO THl-: I.[l i: OK MRS. PRENTISS. 

helping you pack your books. But I can't write any more as 
we are going to Mrs. Gibbs' to tea. Mother is reading Hamlet 
in her room. She is enjoying herself very much. 

Mrs. Gibbs, whose name occurs in this letter, was one of 
those inestimable friends, wlio fulfill the office of mother, as it 
were, to the young minister's wife. She was tenderly attached 
to Mrs. Prentiss and her loving-kindness, which was new every 
morning and fresh every evening, ceased only with her life. 
Her husband, the late Capt. Robert Gibbs, was like her in un- 
wearied devotion to both the pastor and the pastor's wife. 

The summer was passed in getting settled in her new 
home, and receiving visits from old friends. Early in the 
autumn she spent several weeks in Portland. After her re- 
turn, Nov. 2, she writes to Miss Thurston : 

I was in Portland after you had left, and got quite rested 
and recruited after my summer's fatigue, so that I came home 
with health and strength, if not to lay my hand to the plough, 
to apply it to the broom-handle and other articles of domestic 
warfare. Just what I expected would befall me has happened- 
I have got immersed in the whirlpool of petty cares and con- 
cerns which swallow up so many other and higher interests, and 
talk as anxiously about good "help" and bad, as the rest of 
'em do. I sometimes feel really ashamed of myself to see how 
virtuously I fancy I am spending my time, if in the kitchen, 
and how it seems to be wasted if I venture to take up a book. 
I take it that wives who have no love and enthusiasm for their 
husbands are more to be pitied than blamed if they settle down 

into mere cooks and good managers We have had right 

pleasant times since coming home ; never pleasanter than when, 
for a day or two, I was without "help," and my husband 
ground coffee and drew water for me, and thought everything 
I made tasted good. One of the deacons of our church — a very 
old man — prays for me once a week at meeting, especially that 
my husband, and I may be "mutual comforts and enjoyment; 
of each other," which makes us laugh a little in our sleeve;*., 
even while we say Amen in our hearts. We have been reading 
aloud Mary Ilowitt's "Author's Daughter," which is a very 
good story indeed— don't ask me if I have read anything else 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. loi 

My mind has become a complete mummy, and therefore inca- 
pable of either receiving or originating a new idea. I did wade 
Ihrough a sea of words and nonsense on my way home in the 
;;hape of two works of Prof. Wilson — " The Foresters " and 
** Margaret Lindsay" — which I fancy he wrote before he was 
out of his mother's arms or soon after leaving them. The girls 
in Portland are marrying off like all possessed. It reminds me 
of a shovel full of popcorn, which the more you watch it the 
more it won't pop, till at last it all goes racketing off at once, 
pop, pop, pop ; without your having time to say Jack Robinson 
between. 

My position as wife of a minister secures for me many af- 
fectionate attentions, and opens to me many little channels ol 
happiness, which conspire to make me feel contented and at 
home here. I do not know how a stranger would find New 
Bedford people, but I am inclined to think society is hard to 
get into, though its heart is warm when you once do get in 
We are very pleasantly situated, and our married life has been 
abundantly blessed, I doubt if we could fail to be contented 
anywhere if we had each other to love and care for. 

We went to hear Templeton sing last night. I was perfectly 
charmed with his hunting song and with some others, and bet- 
ter judges than I were equally delighted. I had a letter from 
Abby last week. She is in Vicksburg and in fine spirits, and 
fast returning health. 

Her letters during 1846 glow with the sunshine of domes- 
tic peace and joy. In its earlier months her health was 
unusually good and she depicts her happiness as something 
'' wonderful." All the day long her heart, she says, was " run- 
ning over " with a love and delight she could not begin to 
express. But her letters also show that already she was hav 
ing foretastes of that baptism of suffering, which was to fit 
h«;r for doing her Master's work. In January she revisited 
Portland, where she had the pleasure of meeting Prof, and 
Mis. Hopkins with their little boy, and of passing sev^cral 
weeks in the society of her own and her husband's family. 
But Portland had now lost for her much of its attraction. 
" I've seen all the folks," she wrote, '' and we've said about all 



,02 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

weVe got to say to each other, and though I love to be at 
home, of course, it is not the home it used to be before you 
had niadc such another dear, dear home for me. Oh, do you 
miss me? do you feel a little bit sorry you let me leave you? 

Do say, yes But I can't write, I am so happy! I am 

so glad I am going home!" Early in December her first 
child was born. Writing a few weeks later to Mrs. Stearns, 
she thus refers to this event : 

What a world of new sensations and emotions come with 
the first child ! I was quite unprepared for the rush of strange 
feelings— still more so for the saddening and chastening effect. 
Why should the world seem more than ever empty when one 
has just gained the treasure of a living and darling child ? 

The saddening effect in her own case was owing in part, 
no doubt, to anxiety occasioned by the fatal illness of her 
husband's eldest sister, to whom she was tenderly attached. 
The following letter was written under the pressure of this 
anxiety : 

I dare say the idea of Lizzy Payson with a baby seems quite 
To Miss funny to you, as it does to many of the Portland 
Thurston, p;irls ; but I assure you it doesn't seem in the least 

Xciv Brd- ? , ^ -, 1-r J T a A 

ford, Jan. funny to me, but as natural as life and 1 may add, 
31. 1847. ^^ wonderful, alm.ost. She is a nice little plump 
creature, with a fine head of dark hair which I take some 
comfort in brushing round a quill to make it curl, and a pair 
of intelligent eyes, either black or blue, nobody knows which. 
I find the care of her very wearing, and have cried ever so 
many times from fatigue and anxiety, but now I am getting h 
little better and she pays me for all I do. She is a sweet, good 
little thing, her cliief fault being a tendency to dissipation an t 
sitting up late o' nights. The ladies of our church have mad.i 
luT a Seautiful little wardrobe, fortunately for me. 

I had a lot of company all summer my sister, her husban.i 
and bo)', Mr. Stearns and Anna, Mother Prentiss, Julia Willi *, 
pte. I had also my last visit from Abby, whom I little thought 
then I should never see again. Our happiness in our little 
one has been checked by our constant anxiety with regard to 
Abby's health, and it is very hard now for me to give u]) one 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. 103 

who has become in every sense a sister, and not even to have 
the privilege of bidding her farewell. George went down 
about a week since and will remain till all is over. I do not 
even know that while I write she is yet living. She had only 
one wish remaining and tliat was to see George, and she was 
quite herself the day of his arrival, as also the day following, 
and able to say all she desired. Since then she has been rather 
unconscious of what was passing, and I fervently trust that by 
this time her sufferings are over and that she is where she 
longed and prayed to be.' You can have no idea how alike are 
the emotions occasioned by a birth and a death in the family. 
They seem equally solemn to me and I am full of wonder at 
the mysterious new world into which I have been thrown. I 
used to think that the change I saw in young, giddy girls when 
they became mothers, was owing to suffering and care wearing 
upon the spirits, but I see now that its true source lies far 
deeper. My brother H. has been married a couple of months, 
so I have one sister more. I shall be glad when they are all 
married. Some sisters seem to feel that their brothers are lost 
to them on their marriage, but if I may judge by my husband, 
there is fully as much gain as loss. I am sure no son or brother 
could be more devoted to mother and sisters than he is. Of 
course the baby is his perfect comfort and delight ; but I need 
not enlarge on this point, as I suppose you have seen papas 
with their first babies. A great sucking of a very small thumb 
admonishes me that the little lady in the crib meditates crying 
for supper, so I must hurry off my letter. 

Abby Lewis Prentiss died on Saturday, January 30, 1847, 
at the age of thirty-two. Long and wearisome sufferings, 
such as usually attend pulmonary disease, preceded the final 

* I found dear Abby still alive and rejoiced beyond expression to see me. She had 
had a very feeble night, but brightened up towards noon and wiien I arrived seemed 
entirely like her old self, smiling sweetly and exclaiming, "This is the last blessing I 
Jesirei' I Oh, how good the Lord is, isn't He ?" It was very delightful. Tlie doctr)r 
lias just been in and he says she may go any instant, and yet ffiay live a day or two. 
Mother is wonderfully calm and happy, and the house seems like the very gate of Iieaven. 
. ... I so wish you could have seen Abby's smile when I entered lier room. And then 
Bhe inquired so affectionately for you and baby : "Now tell me everything about them." 
She longs and prays to be gone. There is something perfectly childlike about her ex- 
pressions and feelings, especially toward mother. She can't bear to have her leave the 
room and holds her hand a good deal of the time. She sends ever so much love."— /fx. 
ttnct frovi a letter^ dated Fvrtlaud, jfafiuaiy 27, 1S47. 



104 '^^^^^ ^'^^'^ ^^ ^^^^' PRENTISS. 

Struggle. It was toward the close of a stormy winter's day 
that she gently fell asleep. A little while before she had 
imagined herself in a ''very beautiful region" which her 
tongue in vain attempted to. describe, surrounded by those 
she loved. Among her last half-conscious utterances was the 
name of her brother Seargent. The next morning witnessed 
a scene of such wondrous splendor and loveliness as made the 
presence of Death seem almost incredible. The snow-fall and 
mist and gloom had ceased ; and as the sun rose, clear and 
resplendent, every visible object— the earth, trees, houses- 
shone as if enameled with gold and pearls and precious stones. 
It was the Lord's day; and well did the aspect of nature 
symbolise the glory of Him, who is the Resurrection and the 
Life. 

On receiving the news of his sister's death, her brother 
Seargent, writing to his mother, thus depicted her character: 

My heart bleeds to the core, as I sit clown to mingle my tears with 
yours, my dear, beloved mother. 1 can not realise that it is all over; 
I hat I shall never again, in this world, see our dear, dear Abby. Gladly 
would I have given my own life to preserve hers. But we have consolation, 
even in our extreme grief; for she was so good that wc know she is now 
in heaven, and freed from all care, unless it be that her affectionate heart 
is still troubled for us, whom she loved so well. We can dwell with satis- 
faction, after we have overcome the first sharpness of our grief, upon her 
angel-likc qualities, which made her, long before she died, fit for the heaven 

where she now is You have lost the purest, noblest, and best of 

daughters; I, a sister, who never to my knowledge did a selfish act or ut- 
tered a selfish thought. With the exception of yourself, dear mother, she 
was, of all our family circle, the best prepared to enter her Father's house. 

Some extracts from letters written at this time, will show 
the tenderness of Mrs. Prentiss' sisterly love and sympathy, 
and give a glimpse also of her thoughts and occupations as a 
young mother. 

If I loved you less, my dear Anna, I could write you twenty 
To Mrs. letters where I now can hardly get courage to under- 
atrarns, take one. How very dearly I do love you I never knew 

Netv Bed- .,, . , , •' . , , . , 

ford, Feb. till It rushed upon my mmd that we might sometime 
17, 1847. i^g^ ^,^^ ^g ^^g \\:\.VQ, lost dear Abby. How mysteri- 
ously your and Mary's and my baby are given us just at this 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. iqc 

very time, when our hearts are so sore that we are almost afraid 
to expose them to new sufferings by taking in new objects ol 
affection ! But it does seem to me a great mercy that, try 
ing as r : is in many respects, these births and this death come 
almost hand in hand. Surely we three young mothers have 
learned lessons of life that must influence us forever in rela- 
tion to these little ones ! 

I have been like one in the midst of a great cloud, since the 
birth of our baby, entirely unconscious how much I love her , 
but I am just beginning to take comfort in and feel sensible 
affection for her. I long to show the dear little good creature 
to )^ou. But I can hardly give up my long-cherished plans and 
hopes in regard to Abby's seeing and loving our first child. 
Almost as much as I depended on the sympathy and affection 
of my own mother in relation to this baby, I was depending on 
Abby's. But I rejoice that she is where she is, and would not 
have her back again in this world of sin and conflict and labor, 
for a thousand times the comfort her presence could give. But 
you don't know how I dread going home next summer and not 
finding her there ! It was a great mercy that you could go 
down again, dear Anna. And indeed there are manifold mer- 
cies in this affliction — how many we may never know, till we 
get home to heaven ourselves and find, perhaps, that this was 
one of the invisible powers that helped us on our way thither. 
I had a sweet little note from your mother to-day. I would 
give anything if I could go right home and make her adopt 
me as her daughter by a new adoption, and be a real blessing 
and comfort to her in this lonely, dark time. Eddy Hopkins 
calls my baby his. How children want to use the possessive 
case in regard to every object of interest ! 

I find the blanket that Mrs. Gibbs knit for me so infinitely 
preferable, from its elasticity, to common flannel, that I could 
not help knitting one for you. If I say that I have thought as 
many affectionate thoughts to you, while knitting it, as it con- 
tains stitches, I fancy I speak nothing but truth and soberness 
— for I love you now with the love I have returned on my heart 
from Abby, who no longer is in want of earthly friends. Dear 
little baby thought I was knitting for her special pleasure, for 
her bright eyes would always follow the needles as she lay 
upon my lap, and she would smile now and then as if thanking 



I06 THE TJFE or MRS. PRENTISS. 

me for mv trouble. The ladies have given her an elegant 
cloak, and Miss Arnold has just sent her a little white satin 
bonnet that was made in England, and is quite unlike anything 
I ever saw. Only to think, I walked down to church last Sun- 
dav and heard George preach once more ! 

March 3^/.— We could with difficulty, and by taking turns, 
get through reading your letter— not only because you so ac- 
curately describe our own feelings in regard to dear Abby, but 
because we feel so keenly for you. I often detect myself think- 
ing, " Now I will sit down and write Abby a nice long letter "; 
or imagining how she will act when we go home with our baby ; 
and as you say, I dream about her almost every night. I used 
always to dream of her as suffering and dying, but now I see 
her just as she was when well, and hear her advising this and 
suggesting that, just as I did when she was here last summer. 
Life seems so different now from what it did ! It seems to me 
that my youth has been touched by Abby's death, and that I can 
never be so cheerful and light-hearted as I have been. But, 
dear Anna, though I doubt not this is still more the case with 
you, and that you see far deeper into the realities of life than 
I do, we have both the consolations that are to be found in 
Christ— and these will remain to us when the buoyancy and the 
youthful spirit have gone from our hearts. 

March 12th. — .... I had been reading a marriage sermon 
to George from " Martyria," and we were having a nice conjugat 
talk just as your little stranger was coming into the world. G. 
is so hurried and driven that he can not get a moment in which 
to write. He has a funeral this afternoon, that of Mrs. H., a 
lady whom he has visited for two years, and a part, if not all, 
of that time once a week. I have made several calls since I 
wrote you last — two of them to see babies, one of whom took 
the shine quite off of mine with his great blue-black eyes and 
eyelashes that lay halfway down his cheeks. 

The latter part of April she visited Portland ; while there 
«;hc wrote to her husband, April 27 : 

Just as I had tlie baby to sleep and this letter dated, I was 
called down to sec Dr. and Mrs. Dwight and their little Willie. 
The baby woke before they had finished their call, and behaved 
as prettily and looked as bright and lovely as heart could wish 



THE YOUNG WIFE AXn MOTHER. iq; 

Dr. Dwight held her a long time and kissed her heartily.' I 
got your letter soon after dinner, and from the haste and the 
Je nc sais quoi with which it was written, I feared you were not 
well. Alas, I am full of love and fear. How came you tou^alk 
to Dartmouth to preach ? Wasn't it by far too long a walk to 
take in one day .? I heard Dr. Carruthers on Sunday afternoon 
He made the finest allusion to my father I ever heard and 
■mother thought of it as I did. To-day I have had a good 
many callers— among the rest Deacon Lincoln.' When he saw 
the baby he said, " Oh, what a homely creature. Do tell if the 
New Bedford babies are so ugly?" Mrs. S., thinking him in 
earnest, rose up in high dudgeon and said, "Why, we think her 
beautiful. Deacon Lincoln." ''Well, I don't wonder," said he 
I expect she will get measles and everything else, for lots of 
children come to see her and eat her up. Mother, baby and I 
spend to-morrow at your mother's. Do up a lot of sleeping 
and grow fat, pray do ! And oh, love me and think I am a 
darling little wife, and write me loving words in youi* next let 
ter. Wednesday. — We have a fine day for going up to you: 
mother's. And the baby is bright as a button and full of fun 
Aren't you glad ? 

We have just been having a little quiet Saturday evening 
To Mrs. ^^^^ about dear Abby, as we sat here before the light 
PotTiand, ^"^ ^^ ^^^ lamps, and I dare say I was not the only one 
May 22, who wishcd you here too. I came up here from my 
^ '^'^' mother's on Monday morning and have had a delight- 
ful week. I can not begin to tell you how glad I am that we 
are going to make you a little visit on our way home. I do so 
want to see you and your children, and show you our darling 
little baby that I can hardly wait till the time comes. I sup- 
pose you have got your little folks off to bed, and so if you 
will take a peep into the parlor here you v/ill see how we are 
all occupied — mother in her rocking-chair, with her " specs " on 
studying my Dewees on Children ; George toe to toe with her 
reading some old German book, and Lina' curled upon tlie sofa 

- The late Rev. William T. Dwight, D.D., pastor of the Third Church in Portland 
He was a son of President Dwight, an accomplished man, a noble Christian citizen, anj 
one of the ablest preachers of his day. For many years his house almost adjoined Mrj 
Paysoii's, and both he and Mrs. Dwight were among her most cherished friends. 

"^ A devoted friend of her father's, one of his deacons, and a genial, warm-hearted 
good man. 

" A niece of her husband, a lovely cliild, who died a few years later in Georgia. 



,08 THE LIKE nV MRS. TiiENTISS. 

asleep I fancy, while I sit in the corner and write ^ ou f rorc 
dear Abby's desk with her pen. Mercy and Sophia watch ovei 
the cradle in the dining-room, where mother's fifteenth grand- 
child reposes, uncons<:ious of the honor of sleeping where hon 
orables, reverends, and rcverendesses have slumbered before 
ner. How strange it seems that my baby is one of this family 
—bone of their bone, and flesh of tneir flesh ! I need not say 
how I miss dear Abby, for you will see at once that that which 
was months ago a reality to you, has just become such to me. 
It pains me to my heart's core to hear how she suffered. Dear, 
dear Abby ! how I did love her, and how thankful I am tor her 
example to imitate and her excellencies to rejoice in ! Your 
uncle James Lewis' spent last night here, and this morning he 
prayed a delightful prayer, which really softened my whole 
soul. I do not know when I have had my own wants so fer- 
vently expressed, or been more edified at family worship, and 
his allusion to Abby was very touching. 

The following extracts from letters written to her husband, 
while he was absent in Maine, may be thought by some to go 
a little too much into the trifling details of daily life and feel- 
in<r. but do not such details after all form no small part of the 
moral warp and woof of human experience? 

I heard this morning that old Mrs. Kendrick was threatened 

with typhus fever, and went down soon after break- 

Ausiat'd, fast to see how she did, and, as I found Mrs. Henri- 

o Y^^v etta had watched with her and was looking all worn 

Bedford y 

Au:^ust out, I begged her to let me have her baby this aiter- 
^' '■ noon, that she might have a chance to rest ; so, after din- 

' Rev. James Lewis, a venerated elder and local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, then nearly ei},'hty years of age. He died in 1S55, universally beloved and la- 
mented. He entered upon his work in 1800. During most of those fifty-five years he was 
wont to preach every Sabbath, often three times, rarely losing an appointment by sick- 
ness, and still more rarely by storms in summer or winter. He lived in Gorham, Maine, 
and his labors were pretty equally divided among all the towns within fifteen miles round. 
His rides out and back, often over the roughest roads or through heavy snows, averaged, 
probably, from fifteen to twenty miles. It was estimated that he had officiated at not 
loi? than 1,500 funerals, sometimes riding for the purpose forty miles. His funeral and 
camp-meeting sermons included, he could not have preached less than from 8,000 to 
9,000 times. He never received a dollar of compensation for his ministerial services. 
Though a hard-working farmer, his hospitality to his itinerant brethren was unbounded. 
^n several towns of Cumberland and adjoining counties, he was the revered patriarch, as 
half a century earlier he had been the youthful pioneer of Methodism. When he dej>art- 
ed to be with Christ, there was no better man in all the State to follow after him. 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. lO; 

ner, Sophia went down and got her. At first she set up a la- 
mentable scream, but we huddled on her cloak and put her witli 
our baby into the carriage and gave them a ride. She is a proper 
heavy baby, and my legs ache well with trotting round the 
streets after the carriage. Think of me as often as you can and 
pray for me, and I will think of you and pray for you all the 

time. 

Tuesday Evening. — You see I am writing you a sort of little 
journal, as you say you like to know all I do while you are 
away. Our sweet baby makes your absence far less intolerable 

than it used to be before she came to comfort me I have 

felt all soul and eis if I had no body, ever since your precious 
letter came this morning. I have so pleased myself with im- 
agining how funny and nice it would be if I could creep in un- 
perceived by you, and hear your oration ! I long to know how 
you got through, and what Mr. Stearns and Mr. Smith thought 
of it. I always pray for you more when you are away than I 
do when you are at home, because I know you are interrupted 
and hindered about your devotions more or less when journey- 
.ng. I have had callers a great part of to-day, among them 
Mrs. Leonard, Mrs. Gen. Thompson, Mrs. Randall, and Capt. 
Clark.i Capt. C. asked for nobody but the baby. The little 
creature almost sprang into his arms. He was much gratified 
and held her a long while, kissing and caressing her. I think 
it was pretty work tur you to go to reading your oration to 
your mother and old Mrs. Coe, when you hadn't read it to me. 
I felt a terrible pang of jealousy when I came to that in your 
letter. I am going now to call on Miss Arnold. 

Friday, Sept. 3^/.— Yesterday forenoon I \\2.s perfectly wretched. 
It came over me, as things will in spite of us, "Suppose he 
didn't get safely to Brunswick ! " and for several hours I could 
not shake it off. It had all the power of reality, and made me 
so faint that I could do nothing and fairly had to go to bed. I 
suppose it was very silly, and if I had not tried in every way to 
rise above it might have been even wicked, but it frightened 

i One of a number of old whaling captains in her husband's coni^rej^ation. in whcni 
she was interested greatly. They belonged to a class of men sui genn-is-n\^n who had 
traversed all oceans, had visited many lands, and were as remarkable f.ir their jovia. 
urgc-heailed, social qualities, when at home, as for their indomitable energy, Yankee 
push, and adventurous seamanship, when hunting the monsters of the deep on the olhei 
aide of the globe. 



no THE TJFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

me to find how much I am under the power of mere feeling and 
fancy. But do not laugh at mc. Sometimes I say to myself, 
*' What MADNESS to love any human being so intensely ! What 
would become of you if he were snatched from you ? " and then 
I think that though God justly denies us comfort and support 
for the future, and bids us lean upon Him now and trust Him 
for the rest, He can give us strength for the endurance of His 
most terrible chastisements when their hour comes. 

Saturday.— I am a mere baby when I think of your getting 
sick in this time of almost universal sickness and sorrow and 

death Yesterday Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Leonard took me, 

with Sophia and baby, to the cemetery, and on a long ride of 
three hours— all of w^hich was delightful. In the afternoon 
baby had an ill-turn which alarmed me excessively, because so 
many children are sick, but I gave her medicine and think she 
will soon be well again. Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Randall and 
others sent me yesterday a dozen large peaches, two melons, a 
lot of shell-beans and tomatoes, a dish of blackberries and some 
fried corn-cakes — not an atom of the whole of wdiich shall I touch, 
taste, handle, or smell ; so you need not fear my killing myself 
Mrs. Capt. Delano, where the Rev. Mr. Brock from England 
stayed, has just lost two children after a few days' illness. 
They were buried in one coffin. Old Gideon Howland, the 
richest man here, is also dead. The papers are full of deaths. 
Our dear baby is nine months old to-day, and may God, if He 
sees best, spare her to us as many more ; and if He does not, I 
feel as if I could give her up to Him — but w^e don't know what 
we can do till the time comes. I hear her sweet little voic(i 
down stairs and it sounds happy, so I guess she feels pretty 
omfortable. 

Sabbath Evening:;. — The baby is better, and I dare say it is my 
imagination that says she looks pale and puny. She is now 
asleep in your study, where too I am sitting in your chair. I 
came down as soon as I could this morning, and have stayed 
here all day. It is so quiet and pleasant among your books and 
papers, and it was so dull up-stairs ! I thought before your let- 
ter came, while standing over the green, grassy graves of Wi/ac 
Read, Mary Rodman, and Mrs. Cad well,' how I should love to 
have dear Abby in such a green, sweet spot, where we could 

' Twu brijjht girls and a young mother, wiio had died not long before. 



Till-: VolJNC. WIFE AND MOTHER. m 

sometimes go together to talk of her. I must own I should 
like to be buried under grass and trees, rather than cold stone 
and heavy marble. Should not you ? 



11. 

Birth of a Son. Death of her Mother. Her Grief. Letters. Eddy's Illness and hei 
own Cares. A Family Gathering at Newburj'port. Extracts from Eddy's Journal. 

Passing over another year, which w^as marked by no inci- 
dents requiring special mention, we come again to a birth and 
a death in close conjunction. On the 22d of October, 1848, 
her second child, Edward Payson, was born. On the 17th of 
November, her mother died. Of the life of this child she her- 
self has left a minute record, portions of which will be given 
later. In a letter to his sister, dated New Bedford, Novem- 
ber 2 1st, her husband thus refers to her mother's departure: 

We have just received the sad intelligence of Motlier Payson's death. 
She passed away very peacefully, as if going to sleep, at half-past five on 
Friday afternoon. Dear Lizzy was at first quite overwhelmed, as I knew 
she would be— for her attachment to her mother was uncommonly tender 
and devoted ; but she is now perfectly tranquil and will soon, I trust, be 
able to think of her irreparable loss with a melancholy pleasure even. 
There is much in the case that is peculiarly fitted to produce a cheerful 
resignation. Mrs. Payson has been a severe sufferer ; and since the break- 
ing up of her home in Portland, she has felt, I think, an increasing detach- 
ment from the world. I was exceedingly struck with this during her visit 
here last winter. She seemed to me to be fast ripening for heaven. It is 
such a comfort to us that she was able to name our little boy ! ' 

1 Her sickness lasted six weeks, dating from the day of herbeingentirely confi'ied tobed. 
Her life was prolonged much beyond what her physicians or any one else who saw her, 
had believed possible. During the last week her sufferings were less, and she lay quiel 
part of the time. Friday morning she had an attack of faintness, in the course of which 
i-lie remarked " I am dying." She recovered and before noon sank into a somnolent state 
(rom which she never awoke. Her breathing became softer and fainter till it ceased at 
h-ilf-past five in the afternoon. Oh, what a transition was that ! from pain and weari- 
r.^ss and woe to the world of light ! to the presence of the Saviour ! to unclouded blLss 
1 felt, and so I beheve did all assembled round her bed, that it was time for exultation 
rather than grief. We could not think of ourselves, so absorbed were we in contempla- 
tion of her happiness. She was able to say scarcely anything during her sickness, and 



112 Tin-: LI1T-: of mrs. prentiss. 

Mis. Payson died in the 65th year of her age. She was a 
woman of most attractive and admirable qualities, full ol 
cheerful life and energy, and a whole-hearted disciple of Jesus. 
A few extracts from Mrs. Prentiss' letters will show how deep, 
ly she felt her loss. To her youngest brother she writes : 

How gladly I would go, if I could, to see you all, and talk 
over with you the thousand things that are filling our minds 
and hearts ! We can not drain this bitter cup at one draught 
and then go on our way as though it had never been. The 
loss of a mother is never made up or atoned for ; and ours was 
such a mother ; so peculiar in her devotion and tenderness and 
sympathy ! I can not mourn that her sorrowful pilgrimage is 
over, can not think for a moment of wishing she were still on 
earth, weeping and praying and suffering — but for myself and 
for you and for all I mourn with hourly tears. She has sacri- 
ficed herself for us. 

To her friend, Miss Lord, she writes, Jan. 31: 

It seems to me that every day and hour I miss my dear 
mother more and more, and I feel more and more painfully 
how much she suffered during her last years and months. 
Dear Louise, I thought I knew that she could not live long, 
but I never realised it, and even now I keep trying to hope 
that she has not really gone. Just in this very spot where I 
now sit writing, my dear mother's great easy-chair used to sit, 
and here, only a year ago, she was praying for and loving me. 
O, if I had only known she was dying then, and could have 
talked with her about heaven till il had grown to seeming like 
a home to which she was going, and whither I should follow her 

left not a single message for the absent children, or directions to those who were present. 
Her extreme weakness, and the distressing effect of every attempt to speak, made 
her abandon all such attempts except in answer to questions. But the tenor of her 
replies to all inquiries was uniform, expressing entire acquiescence in the will of God, 
confidence in Him through Christ, and a desire to depart as soon as He should permit. 
Tranquillity and peace, unclouded by a single doubt or fear, seem to have filled her mind. 
There were several reasons which led us to decide that the interment should take place 
hcie ; but on the following Saturday a gentleman arrived from Portland, sent by the 
Second Parish to remove the remains to tliat place, if we made no objection. As we 
made none, the body was disinterred and taken to P., my brother G. accompanying it 
So that her mortal remains now rest with those of my dear father. — Letter f-rom Mrs 
Hoj^kins to her aunt in New Haven, dated IVilliamstown^ Dec. i, 1S4S. 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. i j -> 

sooner or later! But it is all over and I would not have her 
here again, if the shadow of a wish could restore her to us. I 
only earnestly long to be fitting, day by day, to meet her again 
in heaven. God has mingled many great mercies with this 
affliction, and I do not know that I ever in my life so felt the 
delight of praying to and thanking Him. When I begin to 
pray I have so much to thank Him for, that I hardly know how 
to stop. I have always thought I would not for the universe 
be left unchastised— and now I feel the smart, I still can say 
so. Lotty's visit was a great comfort and service to me, but I 
Vi^as very selfish in talking to her so much about my own loss, 
while she was so great a sufferer under hers. Since she left my 
little boy has been worse than ever and pined away last week 
very rapidly. You can form no idea, by any description of his 
sufferings, of what the dear little creature has undergone since 
his birth. I feel a perfect longing to see Portland and mother's 
many dear friends there, especially your mother and a few like 
her. I am very tired as I have written a great part of tliis 
with baby in my lap — so I can write no more. 

Dear little Eddy has found life altogether unkind thus far. 
To Mrs. ^""^ ^ \\^\'^ had many hours of heartache on his ac- 

fJ^iTis'q^^""^ ' ^^^ ^ ^^P^ ^^ ^^^y weather the storm and 
'come out safely yet. The doctor examined him all 
over yesterday, particularly his head, and said he could not 
make him out a sick child, but that he thought his want of flesh 
owing partly to his sufferings but more to the great loss of 
sleep occasioned by his sufferings. Instead of sleeping twelve 
hours out of the twenty-four, he sleeps but about seven and 
that by means of laudanum. Isn't it a mercy that I have been 
able to bear so well the fatigue and care and anxiety of these 
four hard months? I feel that I have nothing to complain of, 
and a great deal to be thankful for. On the whole, notwith- 
standing my grief about my dear mother's loss, and my per- 
plexity and distress about baby, I have had as much real hap- 
piness this winter as it is possible for one to glean in such un- 
favorable circumstances. By far the greatest trial I have to 
contend with, is that of losing all power to control m}' time. 
A little room all of my own, and a regular hour, morning and 
night, all of my own would enable me, I think, to say, ^^ Now 
let life do its worst ! " 
8 



J, 4 TlIK LllK ni- MRS. TRENTISS. 

1 am no stran-er, I assure you, to the misgivings you de 
scribe in your last letter ; I think them the result of the wish 
without the unll to be holy. We pray for sanctification and 
then arc afraid God will sanctify us by stripping us of our idols 
and feel distressed lest we can not have them and Him too. 
Reading the life of Madame Guyon gave me great pain and 
anxiety, I remember. I thought that if such spiritual darkness 
and trial as she was in for many years, was a necessary attend- 
ant on eminent piety, I could not summon courage to try to 
live such a life. Of all the anguish in the world there is noth- 
ing like this— the sense of God, without the sense of nearness 
to' Him. I wish you would always "think aloud" when you 
write to me. I long to see you and the children and Mr. S., 
and so does George. Poor G. has had a very hard time of it 
ever since little Eddy's birth— so much care and worry and 
sleeplessness and labor, and how he is ever to get any rest I 
don't see. These are the times that try our souls. Let nobody 
condole with me about our bodies. It is the struggle to be 
patient and gentle and cheerful, when pressed dowm and worn 
upon and distracted, that costs us so much. I think when I 
have had all my children, if there is anything left of me, I 
shall write about the " Battle of Life " more eloquently than 
Dickens has done. I had a pleasant dream about mother and 
Abby the other night. They came together to see me and both 
seemed so well and so happy ! I i^€\. perfectly happy now, that 
my flear mother has gone home. 
' I used to think it hard to be sick when I had dear mother 
hanging over me, doing all she could for my relief, 
\llyn^x%^i but it is harder to be denied the poor comfort of being 
let alone and to have to drag one's self out of bed to 
take care of a baby. Mr. Stearns must know how to pity me, 
ffir my real sick headaches are very like his, and when racked 
with pain, dizzy, faint and exhausted with suffering, starvation 
and sleeplessness, it is terrible to have to walk the room with a 
crying child ! I thought as I lay, worn out even to childish- 
ness, obliged for the baby's sake to have a bright sunlight 
streaming into the chamber, and to keep my eyes and ears on 
the alert for the same cause, how still we used to think the 
house must be left when my father had these headaches and 
how mnthcr busied herself all day long about him, and how 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. 1 15 

nice his little plate of hot steak used to look, as he sat up to 
eat it when the sickness had gone — and how I ^m suffering 
here all alone with nobody to give me even a look of encour- 
agement. George was out of town on my sickest day. When he 
was at home he did everything in the world he could do to 
keep the children still, but here they must be and I must 
direct about every trifle and have them on the bed with me. I 
am getting desperate and feel disposed to run furiously in the 
traces till I drop dead on the way. Don't think me very wicked 
for saying so. I am jaded in soul and body and hardly know 
what I do want. If T. comes, George, at all events, will get 

relief and that will take a burden from my mind I want 

Lina to come this summer. There is a splendid swing on iron 
hooks under a tree, at the house we are going to move into. 
Won't that be nice for Jeanie and Mary's other children, if they 
come ? I wish I had a little fortune, not for myself but to 
gather my " folks " together with. I shall not write you, my 
dear, another complaining letter ; do excuse this. 

This letter shows the extremity of her trouble ; but it is a 
picture, merely. The reality was something beyond descrip- 
tion ; only young mothers, who know it by experience, can 
understand its full meaning. Now, however, the storm for 
a while abated. The young relative, whose loving devotion 
had ministered to the comfort of her dying mother, came to 
her own relief and passed the next six months at New Bed- 
ford, helping take care of Eddy. In the course of the spring, 
too, his worst symptoms disappeared and hope took the place 
of fear and despondency. Referring to this period, his mother 
writes in Eddy's journal: 

On the Saturday succeeding his birth, we heard of my dear 
mother's serious illness, and, when he was about three weeks 
old, of her death. We were not surprised that his health suf- 
1 r?red from the shock it thus received. He began at once to be 
affected with distressing colic, which gave him no rest day or 
night. His father used to call him a "little martyr," and such 
indeed he was for many long, tedious months. On the i6th of 
February, the doctor came and spent two hours in carefully in- 
vestigating his case. He said it was a most trying condition of 



Ij6 the life of MRS. PRENTISS. 

things, and he would gladly do something to relieve me, as he 
thought I had been through " enough to kill ten men:' .... 
When Eddy was about eight months old, the doctor deter- 
mined to discontinue the use of opiates. He was now a fine, 
healthy baby, bright-eyed and beautiful, and his colic was re- 
ducing itself to certain seasons on each day, instead of occupy- 
ing the whole day and night as heretofore. We went through 
fire and water almost in trying to procure for him natural sleep. 
We swung him in blankets, wheeled him in little carts, walked 
the room with him by the hour, etc., etc., but it w^as w^onderful 
how little sleep he obtained after all. He always looked wide 
awake and as if he did not need sleep. Flis eyes had gradually 
become black, and when, after a day of fatigue and care with 
him he would at last close them, and we would flatter ourselves 
that now we too should snatcli a little rest, we would see them 
shining upon us in the most amusing manner with an expres- 
sion of content and even merriment. About this time he was 
l-)aptized. I well remember how in his father's study, and be- 
fore taking him to church, we gave him to God. He was very 
good while his papa was performing the ceremony, and looked 
so bright and so well, that many who had never seen him in his 
state of feebleness, found it hard to believe he had been aught 
save a vigorous and healthy child. My own health was now so 
broken down by long sleeplessness and fatigue, that it became 
necessary for me to leave home for a season. Dr. Mayhew 
promised to run in every day to see that all went well with 
Eddy. His auntie was more than willing to take this care 
uj^on herself, and many of our neighbors offered to go often to 
sec liim, promising to do everything for his safety and comfort 
if I would only go. Not aware how miserable a state I w^as in, 
I resolved to be absent only one week, but was away for a 
whole month. 

A part of the month, with her husband and little daugh- 
ter, she passed at Ncwburyport. His brother, S. S. Prentiss 
— wliose name was then renowned all over the land as an ora- 
tor and patriot— had come North for the last time, bringing 
his wife and chiUlrcn with him. It was a never-to-be-forgotten 
family gathering under the aged mother's roof. 

On my retiiin (she continues in Eddy's journal) I found him 



TIIK VOUNG WIFK AXI.) MOTHER. 117 

looking finely. He had had an ill-turn owing- to teethini^ which 
they had kept from me, but had recovered from it and looked 
really beautiful. His father and uncle S. S. had been to see 
him once during our vacation, and we were now expecting 
them again with his Aunt Mary and her three children and his 
giandmother. We depended a great deal on seeing Eddy and 
Una together, as she was his tiviii cousin and only a few hours 
older than he. But on the very evening of their arrival he was 
taken sick, and, although they all saw him that night looking 
like himself, by the next morning he had changed sadly. He 
grew ill and lost flesh and strength very fast, and no remedies 
seemed to have the least effect on his disorder, which was one 
induced by teething For myself I did not believe any- 
thing could now save my precious baby, and had given him to 
God so unreservedly, that I was not conscious of even a wish 
for his life When at last w^e saw evident tokens of re- 
turning health and strength, we felt that we received him a sec- 
ond time as from the grave. To me he never seemed the same 
child. My darling Eddy was lost to me and another — and yei 
the same — filled his place. I often said afterward that a little 
stranger was running about my nursery , not mine, but God's. 
Indeed, I can't describe the peculiar feelings with which I al- 
ways regarded him after this sickness, nor how the thought 
constantly met me, "He is not mine; he is God's." Every 
night I used to thank Him for sparing him to me one dav 
longer ; thus truly enjoying him a day at a time. 

An extract from a letter to Miss Lord, written on the anni- 
versary of her mother's death, will close the account of this 
year. 

If I were in Portland now, I should go right down to sec 
you I feel just like having a dear, old-fashioned talk with 
you. I was thinking how many times death had entered that 
old Richmond circle of which you and I once formed a part ; 
Mrs Persico, Susan, Charlotte Ford, Kate Kennedy, and now 
our own dearest Lotty, all gone. I can not tell you how much 
I miss and grieve for Lotty." I can not be thankful enough 
that I went to Portland m the summer and had that last week 

» The wife of her brother Mr. Henry M. I'ayson. 



Il8 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

with her, nor for her most precious visit here last winter 
Whenever you think of any little thing she said, I want you tc 
write it down for me. no matter whether it seems worth writ- 
ing or not. I know by experience how precious such things 
are. This is a sad day to me. Indeed, all of this month has 
been so, recalling as it has done, all I was suffering at this time 
last year, and all my dear mother was then suffering. I can 
hardly realise that she has been in heaven a whole year, and 
that I feel her loss as vividly as if it were but yesterday — in- 
deed, more so. I do not feel that this affliction has done me the 
good that it ought to have done and that I hoped it would. As 
far as I have any excuse it lies in my miserable health. I want 
so much to be more of a Christian ; to live a life of constant 
devotion. Do tell me, when you write, if you have such 
tnmbled thoughts, and such difficulty in being steadfast and 
unmovable ? Oh, how I sigh for the sort of life I led in Rich- 
mond, and which was more or less the life of the succeeding 
years at home ! My husband tries to persuade me that the dif- 
ference is more in my way of life, and that then being my time 
for contemplation, now is my time for action. But I know, 
mvself, that I have lost ground. You must bear me in mind 
when you pray, my dear Louise, for I never had so much need 
of praying nor so little time or strength for it. 



III. 

Further Extracts from Eddy's Journal. Ill-health. Visit to Newark. Death of her 
Brother-in-law, S. S. Prentiss. His Character. Removal to Newark. Letters. 

The record of the new year opens with this entry in 
Eddy's journal : 

January^ 1850. — Eddy is now fourteen months old, has six 
teeth, and walks well, but with timidity. He is, at times, really 
beautiful. He is very affectionate, and will run to meet me, 
throw his little arms round my neck and keep pat-pat-patting 
me, with delight Miss Arnold sent him, at New Year's, a 
pretty ball, with which he is highly pleased. He rolls it about 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. II9 

by knocking it with a stick, and will shout for joy when he sees 
it moving. He is crazy to give everybody something, and when 
he is brought down to prayers, hurries to get the Bible for his 
father, his little face all smiles and exultation, and his body in 
a quiver with emotion. He is like lightning in all his move- 
ments, and is never still for an instant. It is worth a good 
deal to see his face, it is so brimful of life and sunshine and 
gladness. 

Her letters, written during the winter and spring, show how 
in the midst of bodily suffering, depression, and sorrow her 
views of life were changing and her faith in God growing 
stronger. Three of her brothers were now in California, seek- 
ing their fortunes in the newly-discovered gold mines. To one 
of them she writes, March loth : 

I was delighted yesterday by the reception of your letter. 
I do not wonder that Lotty's death affected you as it did — but 
however sharp the instruments by which these lessons come to 
us, they are full of good when they do come. As I look back 
to the time w^hen I did not know what death was doing and 
could do, I seem to myself like a child who has not yet been to 
school. The deaths of our dear mother and of Lotty have taken 
fast hold of me. Life is entirely changed. I do not say this in a 
melancholy or repining temper, for I would not have life ap- 
pear otherwise than in its true light. All my sickly, wicked 
disgust with it has been put to the blush and driven away. I 
see now that to live for God, whether one is allowed ability to 
be actively useful or not, is a great thing, and that it is a won- 
derful mercy to be allowed to live and suffer even, if thereby 
one can glorify Him. I desire to live if it is God's will, though 
I confess heaven looks most attractive when either sin, sorrow, 
or sickness weary me. But I must not go on at this rate, for I 
could not in writing begin to tell you how different everything 
looks as I advance into a knowledge of life and see its awful 
sorrows and sufferings and changes and know that I am sub- 
ject to all its laws, soon to take my turn in its mysterious close. 
My dear brother, let us learn by heart the lessons we are learn- 
ing, and go in their strength and wisdom all our days 

Our children are well. Eddy has gone to be weighed (he 



120 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

weighed t .enty-four pounds). He is a fine little fellow. 1 
have his nurse still, and ought to be in excellent health, but am 
a nervous old thing, as skinny and bony as I can be. I can think 
of nothing but birds' claws when I look at my hands. But I 
have so much to be thankful for in my dear husband and my 
r veet little children, and love all of you so dearly, that I believe 
I am as rich as if I had the flesh and strength of a giant. I 
am going this week to hear Miss Arnold read a manuscript 
novel. This will give spice to my life. Warmest love to you 
all. 

Again, May loth, she writes: 

It would be a great pleasure to me to keep a journal for 
you if I were well enough, but I am not. I have my sick 
headache now once a week, and it makes me really ill for 
about three days. Towards night of the third day I begin to 
brighten up and to eat a morsel, but hardly recover my 
strength before I have another pull-down. Just as I had got 
to this point the door-bell rang, and lo ! a beautiful May-basket 
hanging on the latch for "Annie," full of pretty and good 
things. I can hardly wait till morning to see how her eyes will 
shine and her little feet fly when she sees it. George has been 
greatly distressed about S. S., and has, I think, very little, if any, 
hope that he will recover. Dr. Tappan ' spent Tuesday night 
here. We had a really delightful visit from him. He spoke 
highly of your classmate, Craig, who is just going to be mar- 
ried. He told us a number of pleasant anecdotes about father. 
Eddy has got big enough to walk in the street. He looks like 
a little picture, with his great forehead and bright eyes. He is 
in every way as large as most children are at two years His 
supreme delight is to tease A. by making believe strike her or 
m some other real boy's hateful way. She and he play to- 
gether on the grass-plat, and I feel quite matronlv as I sit 
watching them with their balls and wheel-barrows and what- 
MOts. Tins little scamp has, I fear, broken my constitution to 
pieces. It makes me crawl all over when I think of vou three 
fagging all day at such dull and unprofitable labor. But I ar 
sure Providence will do what is really best for you all. W 

^^^V^^JZ:'^ "•"•' - ^'' ''-^' °^ ^- ^^^-'^ -d one of the pa 



am 
e 



THE YOUXr, WIFE AND MOTHER. 121 

think and talk of and pray for you every day and more than 
once a day, and, in all my ill-health and sufferings, the remem- 
brance of you is pleasant and in great measure refreshing. J 
depend more upon hearing from you all than I can describe. 
What an unconquerable thing family affection is ! 

She thus writes, May 30th, to her old Portland friend, Miss 
Lord : 

I have written very few letters and not a line of anything 
else the past winter, owing to the confusion my mind is in 
most of the time from distress in my head. Three days out of 
every seven I am as sick as I well can be — the rest of the time 
languid, feeble, and exhausted by frequent faint turns, so that 
I can't do ttie smallest thing in my family. I hardly know 
what it is so much as to put a clean apron on to one of my 
children. To me this is a constant pain and weariness ; for 
our expense in the way of servants is greater than we can 
afford and everything is going to destruction under my face 
and eyes, while I dare not lift a finger to remedy it. I live in 
constant alternations of hope and despondency about my 
health. Whenever I feel a little better, as I do to-day, I am 
sanguine and cheerful, but the next ill-turn depresses me ex- 
ceedingly. I don't think there is any special danger of my dy- 
ing, but there is a good deal of my getting run down beyond 
the power of recovery, and of dragging out that useless exist- 
ence of which I have a perfect horror. But I would not have 
you think I am not happy ; for I can truly say that I am, most 
of the time, as happy as I believe one can be in this world. All 
my trials and sufferings shut me up to the one great Source of 
peace, and I know there has been need of every one of them. 

I have not yet made my plans for the summer. Our doctor 
urges me to go away from the children and from the salt water, 
but I do not believe it would do me a bit of good. I want you 
to see my dear little boy. He is now nineteen months old and as 
fat and well as can be. He is a beautiful little fellow, we think, 
and very interesting. He is as gallant to A. as you please, and 
runs to get a cushion for her when their supper is carried in, 
and won't eat a morsel himself till he sees her nicely fixed. 
George has gone to Boston, and I am lonely enough. I would 
write another sheet if I dared, but I don't dare. 



122 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

What she here says of her happiness, amidst the trials o( 
the previous winter, is repeated a little later in a letter to her 
husband : 

I can truly say I have not spent a happier winter since our 
marriage, in spite of all my sickness. It seems to me I can 
never recover my spirits and be as I have been in my best 
days, but what I lose in one way perhaps I shall gain in an- 
other. Just think how my ambition has been crushed at every 
point by my ill-health, and even the ambition to be useful and 
a comfort to those about me trampled underfoot, to teach me 
what I could not have learned in any other school ! 

In the month of June she went on a visit to Newark, New 
Jersey, where her husband's mother and sister now resided: 
Dr. Stearns having in the fall of 1849 accepted a call to the 
First Presbyterian church in that city. While she was in New- 
ark news came of the dangerous illness, and, soon after, of the 
death at Natchez of her brother-in-law, Mr. S. S. Prentiss. 
The event was a great shock to her, and she knew that it 
would be a crushing blow to her husband. Pier letters to him, 
written at this time, are full of the tender love and sym- 
pathy that infuse solace into sorrow-stricken hearts. Here is 
an extract from one of them, dated July nth: 

I can't tell you how it grieves and distresses me to have had 
this long-dreaded af^iction come upon you when you were 
alone. Though I could do so little to comfort you, it seems as 

it' I mil si be near you But I know I am doing right in 

staying here — doing as you would tell me to do, if I could have 
your direct wish, and you don't know how thankful I am that 
it has pleased God to let me be with dear mother at a time 
when she so needed constant affection and sympathy. Yes 
there arc wonderful mercies with this heavy affliction, and we 
all see and feel them. Poor mother has borne all the dreadful 
suspense and then the second blow of to-day far better than 
any of us dared to hope, but she v/eeps incessantly. Anna is 
with her all she can possibly be, and Mr. Stearns is an angel of 
mercy. I have prayed for you a great deal this week, and 1 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. I23 

know God is with you, comforts you, and will enable you to 
bear this great sorrow. And yet I can't help feeling that I want 
to comfort you myself. Oh, may we all reap its blessed fruits 
as long as we live ! Let us withdraw a while from everything 
else, that we may press nearer to God. 

We were in a state of terrible suspense all day Tuesday, all 
day Wednesday, and until noon to-day ; starting at every foot- 
fall, expecting telegraphic intelligence either from you or from 
the South, and deplorably ignorant of Seargent's alarming 
condition, notwithstanding all the warning we had had. Wilh 

one consent we had put far off the evil day And now I 

must bid you good-night, my dearest husband, praying that 
you may be the beloved of the Lord and rest in safety by 
Him. 

The early years of Mrs. Prentiss' married life were in vari- 
ous ways closely connected with that of this lamented brother; 
so much so that he may be said to have formed one of the 
most potent, as well as one of the sunniest, influences in her 
own domestic history. Not only was he very highly gifted, 
intellectually, and widely known as a great orator, but he was 
also a man of extraordinary personal attractions, endeared to 
all his friends by the sweetness of his disposition, by his 
winning ways, his wit, his playful humor, his courage, his 
boundless generosity, his fraternal and filial devotion, and by 
the charm of his conversation. His death at the early ai^e 
of forty-one called forth expressions of profound sorrow and 
regret from the first men of the nation. After the lapse of 
nearly a third of a century his memory is still fresh and bright 
in the hearts of all, who once knew and loved him.' 

Notwithstanding the shock of this great affliction, Mrs. 
Prentiss returned to New Bedford much refreshed in body and 
■nind. In a letter to her friend Miss Lord, dated September 
.4th, she writes : 

I spent six most profitable weeks at Newark ; went out very 
little, saw very few people, and had the quiet and retirement I 
had long hungered and thirsted for. Since 1 have had children 

' See appendix B, p. 534, lor a brief skctcli of his life. 



124 THE LIFE ( )]• MRS PRENTISS. 

my life has been so distracted with care and sickness that 1 
have sometimes felt like giving up in despair, but this six weeks 
rest gave me fresh courage to start anew. I have got some 
delightful books — Manning's Sermons.' They are (letting the 
High-churchism go) most delightful ; I think Susan would 
have feasted on them. But she is feasting on angels' food and 
has need of none of these things. 

In October of this year Mrs. Prentiss bade adieu to New 
Bedford, never to revisit it, and removed to Newark ; her hus- 
band having become associate pastor of the Second Presby- 
terian church in that place. In the spring of the following 
year he accepted a call to the Mercer street Presbyterian 
church in New York, and that city became her home the rest 
of her days. Although she tarried so short a time in Newark, 
she received much kindness and formed warm friendship 
while there. She continued to suffer much, however, from 
ill-health and almost entirely suspended her correspondence. 
A few letters to New Bedford friends are all that relate to this 
period. In one to Mrs. J. P. Allen, dated November 2d, she 
thus refers to an accident, which came near proving fatal : 

Yesterday we went down to New York to hear Jenny Lind ; 
a pleasure to remember for the rest of one's life. If anything, 
she surpassed our expectations. In coming home a slight acci- 
dent to the cars obliged us to walk about a mile, and I must 
needs fall into a hole in the bridge which we were crossing, 
and bruise and scrape one knee quite badly. The wonder is 
that I did not go into the river, as it was a large hole, and pitch 
dark. I think if I had been walking with Mr. Prentiss I should 
not only have gone in myself, but pulled him in too ; but I had 
the arm of a stronger man, who held me up till I could extri- 
cate myself. Y(ju can't think how I miss you, nor how often I 
wish you could run in and sit with me, as you used to do. I 
have always loved you, and shall remember you and yours with 
the utmost interest. We had a pleasant call the other day 
from Captain Oibbs. Seeing him made me liomesick enough 
I could hardly keep from crying all the time he stayed. It 

' Sermons by Henry Edward Mannin};, Archdeacon of Chichester (now CardinaJ 
Uanning). ist, 2d, and 3d Series. 



THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER. I2C 

seems to us both as if we had been gone from New Bedford 
more months than we have days. Mr. Prentiss said yesterday 
that he should expect if he went back directly, to see the boy? 
and gir'.s grown up and married. 

Mr, Prentiss and Mr. Poor have just taken Annie and Eddy 

out to walk, and I have been moping over the fire and 

y?i'i/^f?/'v;r,thinking of New Bedford friends, and wishing one or 

Neivark j;nore would "happen in." I am iust now orettinQ^ over 
Feb. 12, 1851. ^ ^ -^ 00 

a severe attack of rheumatism, which on leaving my 

back intrenched itself in Mr. P.'s shoulder. I dislike this cli- 
mate and am very suspicious of it. Everybody has a horrible 
cold, or the rh'^umatism, or fever and ague. Mr. Prentiss says 
if I get the latter, he shall be off for New England in a twink- 
ling. I ihip-k he is as well as can be expected while the death 
of his brotber continues so fresh in his remembrance. All the 
old cheerfulness, which used to sustain me amid sickness and 
trouble, has gone from him. But God has ordered the iron to 
enLer liis soul, and it is not for me to resist that w^ill. Our chil- 
dren are well. We have had much comfort in them both this 
winter. Mother Prentiss is renewing her youth, it is so pleasant 
to tier to have us all near her. (Eddy and A. are hovering 
about me, making such a noise that I can hardly write. Eddy 
says, "When I was tired. Poor tarried me.") Mr. Poor carries 
all before him.' He is very popular throughout the city, and 1 
believe Mrs. P. is much admired by their people. Mr. Prentiss 
Is preaching every Sabbath evening, as Dr. Condit is able to 
preach every morning now. I feel as much at home as I possi- 
bly could anywhere in the same time, but instead of mourning 
less for my New^ Bedford friends, 1 mourn more and more every 
day. 

To Mrs. Allen she writes, Feb. 21 : 

I know all about those depressed moods, when it costs one 
as much to smile, or to give a pleasant answer, as it would at 
other times to make a world. What a change it will be to us 
poor sickly, feeble, discouraged ones, when we find ourselves 

"The Rev. I). W. Poor, D.D., now of Philadelphia. He had been settled at lali 
Haven, neai New Bedford, and was then a pastor in Newark. 



f20 Tin-: LIFI-: of mrs. r:;ENTiss. 

where there is neither pain or lassitude or fatigue of the body 
or sorrow or care or despondency of the mind ! 

I miss you more and more. People here are kind and 
excellent and friendly, but I can not make them, as yet, f?U the 
places of the familiar faces I have left in New Bedford. I am 
all the time walking through our neif^hborhood, d/opping into 
Deacon Barker's or your house, or welcoming some of you into 
our old house on the corner. Eddy is pretty well. He is a 
sweet little boy, gentle and docile. He learns to talk very fast, 
and is crazy to learn hymns. He says, "Tinkle, tinkle leetle 
'tar," very prettily, and says, " I love everybody, and give 'tatoes 
to beggar boys." Mother Prentiss seems to tJuHve on having us 
all about her. She lives so far off that I see her seldom, but 
Mr. P. goes every day, except Sundays, when he can't go — rain 
or shine, tired or not tired, convenient or not convenient. Since 
my mother's death he has felt that he must do quickly what- 
ever he has to do for his own. 



CHAPTER V. 

IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 

185I-1858. 

I. 

Removal to New York and first Summer there. Letters. Loss of Sleep and Anxiet> 
about Eddy. Extracts from Eddy's Journal, describing his last Illness and Death. 
Lines entitled "To my Dying Eddy." 

Mrs. Prentiss' removal to New York was an important 
link in the chain of outward events which prepared her for 
her special life-work. It introduced her at once into a circle 
unsurpassed, perhaps, by any other in the countr\% for its in- 
telligence, its domestic and social virtues, and its earnest 
Christian spirit. The Mercer street Presbyterian church con- 
tained at that time many members whose names were known 
and honored the world over, in the spheres of business, pro- 
fessional life, literature, philanthropy, and religion ; and among 
its homes were some that seemed to have attained ahiiost the 
perfection of beauty. In these homes the new pastor's wife 
soon became an object of tender love and devotion. Here 
she found herself surrounded by all congenial influences. Her 
mind and heart alike were refreshed and stimulated in the 
healthiest manner. And to add to her joy, several dear old 
friends lived near her and sat in adjoining pews on the 
Sabbath. 

But happy as were the auspices that welcomed her to 
New York, the experience of the past two years had taught 
her not to expect too much from any outward conditions 
She entered, therefore, upon this new period of her life in a 
very sober mood. Nor had many months elai)scd berore she 

(127; 



128 Till- lAVE or MRS. TRENTISS. 

bej^an to hear premonitory murmurs of an incoming sea of 
tro'lible. Most of the summer of 185 1 she remained in town 
with the children. An extract from a letter to her youngest 
brother, dated August i, will show how she whiled away many 
a weary hour: 

It has been very hot this summer ; our house is large and 
cool, and above all, I have a nice bathing-room opening ou'. 
of my chamber, with hot and cold water and a shower-bath, 
which is a world of comfort. We spent part of last week at 
Rockaway, L. I., visiting a friend.^ I nearly froze to death, but 
George and the children were much benefited. I have improved 
fast in health since we came here. Yesterday I walked two and a 
half miles with George, and a year ago at this time I could not 
walk a quarter of a mile without being sick after it for some 
days. When I feel miserably I j ust put on my bonnet and get into 
an omnibus and go rattlety-bang down town ; the air and the 
shaking and the jolting and the sight-seeing make me feel bet- 
ter and so I get along. If I could safely leave my children I 
should go with George. He hates to go alone and surely I 
hate to be left alone ; in fact instead of liking each other's so- 
riety less and less, we every day get more and more dependent 
on each other, and take separation harder and harder. Our 
children are well. 

To her husband, who had gone to visit an old friend, at 
Harpswell, on the coast of Maine, she writes a few days later: 

On Saturday very early Professor Smith called with the 
House of Seven Gables. I read about half of it in the evening. 
One sees the hand of the artisf as clearly in such a work as in 
painting, and the hand of a skilful one, too. I have read many 
books with more interest, but never one in which I was so 
diverted from the story to a study of the author himself. So 
far there is nothing exciting in it. I don't know who supplied 
tlic pulpit on Sunday morning. The sermon was to young 
men, which was not so appropriate as it might have been, con- 

> The friend was Mr. Wni. G. Bull, who had a sumnier cottage at Rockaway. He 
was a leading nicniber of the Mercer street church and one of the best of men. The 
poor and unfortunate blessed him all the year round. To Mrs. Prentiss and her husband 
he was indefatigable in kindness. He died at an advanced age in 1859. 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 120 

sidering there were no young men present, unless I except our 
Eddy and other sprigs of humanity of his age. I suppose you 
will wonder what in the world I let Eddy go for. Well, I took 
a fancy to let Margaret try him, as nobody would know him in 
the gallery and he coaxed so prettily to go. He was highly 
excited at the permission, and as I was putting on his sacquc, 
I directed Margaret to take it oii if he fell asleep. " Ho ! I 
shan't go to sleep," quoth he ; " Christ doesn't have rocking- 
chairs in His house." He set off in high spirits, and during 
the long prayer I heard him laugh loud ; soon after I heard a 
rattling as of a parasol and Eddy saying, " There it is ! " by 
which time Margaret, finding he was going to begin a regular 
frolic, sagely took him out. 

August ph. — The five girls from Brooklyn all spent yester- 
day here. They had a regular frolic towards night, bathing 
and shower-bathing. Afterwards we all went on top of the 
house. It was very pleasant up there. I took the children to 
Barnum's Museum, as I proposed doing. They were delighted, 
particularly with the " Happy Family," which consisted of cats, 
rats, birds, dogs, rabbits, monkeys, etc., etc., dwelling together 
in unity. I observed that though the cats forbore to lay a paw 
upon the rats and mice about them, they yet took a melancholy 
pleasure in looking at these dainty morsels, from which nothing 
could persuade them to turn off their eyes. I am glad that you 
got away from New Bedford alive and that you did not stay 
longer, but hearing about our friends there made me quite long 
to se(; them myself. Do have just the best time in the world at 
Harpswell, and don't let the Rev. Elijah drown you for the 
sake of catching your mantle as you go down. I dare not tell 
you how much I miss you, lest you should think I do not re- 
joice in your having this vacation. May God bless and keep 
you. 

During the autumn she suffered much again from feeble 
health and incessant loss of sleep. '' I have often thought," 
she wrote to a friend, '' that while so stupefied b\' sickness I 
should not be glad to see my own mother if I had to speak to 
her." But neither sick days nor sleepless nights could quench 
the brightness of her spirit or wholly spoil her enjoyment of 
life. A little diary which she kept contains many gleams of 
9 



30 



TIIK LIFE OF MRS. PRLNTISS. 



sunshine, recording pleasant visits from old friends, happ}J 
hours and walks with the children, excursions to Newark, and 
how amazingly" she " enjoyed the boys" (her brothers) on 
their return from the pursuit of golden dreams in 
California. In the month of November the diary shows 
tliat her watchful eye observed in Eddy signs of disease, 
vxhich filled her with anxiety. Before the close of the year 
her worst fears began to be realised. She wrote, Dec. 31 : 
" I am under a constant pressure of anxiety about Eddy. 
How little we know w^iat the New Year will bring forth." 
Early in January, 1852, his symptoms assumed a fatal type, 
and on the 16th of the same month the beautiful boy was re- 
leased from his sufferings, and found rest in the kingdom of 
heaven, that sweet home of the little children. A few extracts 
from Eddy's journal will tell the story of his last days : 

On the 19th of December the Rev. Mr. Poor was here. On 
hearing of it, Eddy said he wanted to see him. As he took 
now so little interest in anything that would cost him an effort, 
I was surprised, but told Annie to lead him down to the parlor 
on reaching it they found Mr. Poor not there, and they then 
went up to the study. I heard their father's joyous greeting 
as he opened his door for them, and how he welcomed Eddy, in 
particular, with a perfect shower of kisses and caresses. This 
was the last time the dear child's own feet ever took him there ; 
but his father afterwards frequently carried him up in his arms 
and amused him with pictures, especially with what Eddy 
called the "bear books."' One morning Ellen told him she 
was going to make a little pie for his dinner, but on his next 
appearance in the kitchen told him she had let it burn all up in 
the oven, and that she felt dreadfully about it. " Never mind, 
I^llic," Sciid lir, " iiKiuHiui does not like to have me eat pie ; but 
whrii I ;'t'/ K'iil I >hall have as many as I want." 

On the 24th (A December Mr. Stearns and Anna were here. 
I was out with the latter most of the day ; on my return Eddy 
came to me with a little tiag which his uncle had given him, 
and after they had left us he ran up and down with it, and as 
my eye followed him, I Lhought he looked happier and brightei 

' Godinan's "American Natural History," 



N THE SCHOOL OF SUFFEklXG. 



131 



and more like himself than I had seen him for a long time. 
He kept saying, ''Mr. Stearns gave me this flag!" and then 
would correct himself and say, " I mean my Uncle Stearns." 
On this night he hung up his bag for his presents, and after 
going to bed, surveyed it with a chuckle of pleasure pcculiai 
to liim, and linally fell asleep in this happy mood. I took great 
delight in arranging his and A.'s presents, and getting them 
safely into their bags. He enjoyed Christmas as much as I had 
reason to expect he would, in his state of health, and was busy 
among his new playthings all day. He had taken a fancy 
within a few wrecks to kneel at family prayers with me at my 
chair, and would throw one little arm round my neck, while 
with the other hand he so prettily and seriously covered his 
eyes. As their heads touched my face as they knelt, I observed 
that Eddy's felt hot when compared with A.'s ; just enougii so 
to increase my uneasiness. On entering the nursery on New 
Year's morning, I was struck with his appearance as he lay in 
bed ; his face being spotted all over. On asking Margaret 
about it, she said he had been crying, and that this occasioned 
the spots. This did not seem probable to me, for I had never 
seen anything of this kind on his face before. How little I 
knew that these were the last tears my darling would ever 
shed. 

On Sunday morning, January 4, not being able to come 
himself, Dr. Buck sent Dr. Watson in his place. I told Dr. W. 
that I thought Eddy had water on the brain ; he said it was 
not so, and ordered nothing but a warm bath. On Thursday, 
January 8, while Margaret was at dinner, I knelt by the side of 
the cradle, rocking it very gently, and he asked me to tell him 
a story. I asked what about, and he said, "A little boy," on 
which I said something like this : Mamma knows a dear little 
boy who was very sick. His head ached and he felt sick all 
over. God said, I must let that little lamb come into my fi-ld 
then his head will never ache again, and he will be a ery li.ip- 
py little lamb. I used the words little lamb because ne was so 
fond of them. Often he would run to his nurse with liis face 
full of animation and say, '' Marget ! ISIamma says I am her 
little lamb ! " While I was telling him this story his eyes were 
fixed intelligently on my face. I then said, "Would yo-.i like 
to know the name of this bov ? " With eagerness he said, " Ves. 



132 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

yes, mamma ! " Taking his dear little hand in mine, and kiss 
ino- it I said. " It was Eddv." Just then his nurse came in and 
his attention was diverted, so I said no more. 

On Sunday, January ii, at noon, while they were all at din 
ner, I was left alone with my darling for a few moments, and 
could not help kissing his unconscious lips. To my utter 
amazement he looked up and plainly recognised me and warmly 
returned my kiss. Then he said feebly, but distinctly twice, '' I 
want some meat and potato." I do not think I should have 
been more delighted if he had risen from the dead, once more 
to recognise me. Oh, it was suck a comfort to have one more 
kiss, and to be able to gratify one more wish ! 

On Friday, January i6th, his little weary sighs became 
more profound, and, as the da}'' advanced, more like groans ; 
but appeared to indicate extreme fatigue, rather than severe 
pain. Towards night his breathing became quick and labori- 
ous, and between seven and eight slight spasms agitated his 
little feeble frame. He uttered cries of distress for a few min- 
utes, when they ceased, and his loving and gentle spirit as- 
cended to that world where thousands of holy children and 
the blessed company of angels and our blessed Lord Jesus, I 
doubt not, joyfully welcomed him. Now we were able to say, 
// is ic'cll with tlie child ! 

" Oh," said the gardener, as he passed down the garden- 
walk, "who plucked that flower? Who gathered that plant?' 
Mis fellow-servants answered, "The Master !" And the gar- 
dener held his peace. 

The fcclinj^s of the mother's heart on Friday found vent in 
some lines entitled To My Dying Eddy, January i6th. Here 
arc two stanzas: 

Blest chikl ! dear child ! For thee is Jesus calling; 

And of our househokl thee — and only thee ! 
Oh, hasten hence ! lo His embraces hasten ! 

Sweet shall thy rest and safe thy shelter be. 

Thou who unguarded ne'er hast left our threshold, 
Alone must venture now an unknown way ; 

Yet, fear not ! Footprints of an Intant Holv 
Lie on thy path. Thou canst niU go astray. 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 133 

In a letter to her friend Mrs. Allen, of New Bedford, 
dated January 28, she writes : 

During our dear little Eddy's illness v/e were surrounded 
with kind friends, and many prayers were offered for us and 
for him. Nothing that could alleviate our affliction was left 
uidone or unthought of, and we feel that it would be most un- 
christian and ungrateful in us to even wonder at that Divine 
will which has bereaved us of our only boy — the light and sun- 
shine of our household. We miss him sadly. I need not ex- 
plain to you, who know all about it, how sadly ; but we rejoice 
that he has got away from this troublous life, and that we have 
had the privilege of giving so dear a child to God. When he 
was well he was one of the happiest creatures I ever saw, and I 
am sure he is well now, and that he is as happy as his joyous 
nature makes him susceptible of becoming. God has been 
most merciful to us in this affliction, and, if a bereaved, we are 
still a happy household and full of thanksgiving. Give my love 
to both the children and tell them they must not forget us, and 
when they think and talk of their dear brother and sisters in 
heaven, they must sometimes think of the little Eddy who is 
there too. 



11. 

Birth of her Third Child. Reminiscence of a Sabbath-Evening Talk. Story of >/ie 
Baby's Sudden Illness and Death. Summer of 1S52. Lines entitled "My 
Nursery." 

The shock of Eddy's death proved almost too much for 
Mrs. Prentiss' enfeebled frame. She bore it, however, with 
sweet submission, and on the 17th of the following April her 
sorrow was changed to joy, and Eddy's empty place filled, as 
she thought, by the birth of Elizabeth, her third child, a pict- 
ure of infantine health and beauty. But. although the child 
seemed perfectly well, the mother herself was brought to the 
verge of the grave. For a week or two her life wavered in the 



34 



'IT 1 1- 1,1 if: <)[•• >iRS. PRENTISS 



balance, and she was quite in the mood to follow Eddy to the 
better country. Her husband, recording a "long and most 
interesting conversation " with her on Sabbath evening, May 
2 J, speaks of the ''depth and tenderness of her religious feel- 
ings, of her sense of sin and of the grace and glory of the 
Saviour," and then adds, '' Her old Richmond exercises seem 
of late to have returned with their former strength and beauty 
increased many-fold." On the 14th of May she was able to 
write in pencil these lines to her sister, Mrs. Hopkins: 

I little thought that I should ever write to you again, but I 
have been brought through a great deal, and now have reason 
to expect to get well. I never knew how much I loved you till 
I gave up all hope of ever seeing you again, and I have not 
strength yet to tell you all about it. Poor George has suffered 
much. I hope all will be blessed to him and to me. I am still 
confined to bed. The doctor thinks there may be an abscess 
near the hip-joint, and, till that is cured, I can neither lie 
straight in bed or stand on my feet or ride out. Everybody is 
kind. Our cup has run over. It is a sore trial not to be al- 
lowed to nurse baby. She is kept in another room. I only see 
her once a day. She begins to smile, and is very bright-eyed.. 
I hope your journey will do you good. If you can, do write a 
few lines — not more. But, good-by. 

Hardly had she penned these lines, when, like a thunder- 
bolt from a clear sky, another stunning blow fell upon her. 
On the 19th of May, after an illness of a few hours, Bessie, 
too, was folded forever in the arms of the Good Shepheid. 
Here is the mother's own story of her loss: 

Our darling Eddy died on the i6th of January. The baby 
he had so oiten spoken of was born on the 17th of April. I 
was too feeble to have any care of her. Never had her in my 
arms but twice ; once the day before she died and once while 
she was dying. I never saw her little feet. She was a beauti- 
ful little creature, with a great quantity of dark hair and very 
dark blue eyes. The nurse had to keep her in another room on 
account of my illness. When she was a month old she brought 
her to me one afternoon. "This child is perfectly beautiful/ 



TX TTrr. sriTooL ot- sufffiuxt; 



135 



faid she; "to-morrow I mean to dress her up and have her 
likeness taken." I asked her to get me up in bed and let me 
take her a minute. She objected, and I urged her a good deal, 
till at last she consented. The moment I took her I was struck 
by her unearthly, absolutely angelic expression ; and, not hav- 
ing strength enough to help it, burst out crying bitterly, and 
cried all the afternoon while I was struggling to give h r up. 

Her father was at Newark. When he came home at dark I 
told him I was sure that baby was going to die. He laughed 
at me, said my weak health made me fancy it, and asked the 
nurse if the child was not well. She said she was — perfectly 
well. My presentiment remained, however, in full force, and 
the first thing next morning I asked Margaret to go and see 
how baby was. She came back, saying, " She is very well. 
She lies there on the bed scolding to herself." I cried out to 
have her instantly brought to me. M. refused, saying the 
nurse would be displeased. But my anxieties were excited by 
the use of the word "scolding," as I knew no bab}^ a month 
old did anything of that sort, and insisted on its being brought 
to me. The instant I touched it I felt its head to be of a burn- 
ing heat, and sent for the nurse at once. When she came, I 
said, "This child is very sick." "Yes," she said, "but I wanted 
you to have your breakfast first. At one o'clock in the night I 
found a little swelling. I do not know what it is, but the child 
IS certainly very sick." On examination I knew it was erysipe- 
.as. " Don't say that," said the nurse, and burst into tears. I 
made them get me up and partly dress me, as I was so excited 
I could not stay in bed. 

Dr. Buck came at ten o'clock ; he expressed no anxiety, but 
prescribed for her and George went out to get what he ordered. 
The nurse brought her to me at eleven o'clock and begged me 
to observe that the spot had turned black. I knew at once that 
this was fearful, fatal disease, and entreated George to go and 
tell the doctor: He went to please me, though he saw no need 
of it, and gave the wrong message to the doctor, to the effect 
that the swelling was increasing, to which the doctor replied 
that it naturally would do so. The little creature, whose 
moans Margaret had termed scolding, now was heard all over 
that floor ; every breath a moan that tore my heart in pieces. 
I begged to have her brought to me but the nurse sen! 



136 THE LIFE OF MRS. TRENTTSS. 

word she was too sick to be moved. I then begged the nurse 
to come and tell me exactly what she thought of her, but sh< 
said she could not leave her. I then crawled on my hands and 
knees into the room, being unable then and for a long time 
after to bear my own weight. 

What a scene our nursery presented ! Everything upset 
and tossed about, medicines here and there on the floor, a fire 
like a fiery furnace, and Miss H. sitting hopelessly and with 
falling tears with the baby on a pillow in her lap — all its boast- 
ed beauty gone forever. The sight was appalling and its 
moans heart-rending. George came and got me back to my 
sofa and said he felt as if he should jump out of the window 
every time he heard that dreadful sound. He had to go out 
and made me promise not to try to go to the nursery till his 
return. I foolishly promised. Mrs. White' called, and I told 
her I was going to lose my baby ; she was very kind and went 
in to see it but I believe expressed no opinion as to its state. 
But she repeated an expression which I repeated to myself 
many times that day, and have repeated thousands of times 
since — " God never makes a mistake ." 

Margaret went soon after she left to see how the poor little 
creature was, and did not come back. Hour after hour passed 
and no one came. I lay racked w4th cruel torture, bitterly re- 
gretting my promise to George, listening to those moans till I 
was nearly wild. Then in a frenzy of despair I pulled myself 
over to my bureau, where I had arranged the dainty little 
garments my darling was to wear, and which I had promised 
myself so much pleasure in seeing her wear. I took out ever\^- 
thing she would need for her burial, with a sort of w^ild pleasure 
in doing for her one little service, where I had hoped before to 
render so many. She it was whom we expected to fill our lost 
Eddy's vacant place ; we thought we had had our sorrow and 
that now our joy had come. As I lay back exhausted, with 
these garments on my breast, Louisa Shipman" opened the 
door. One glance at my piteous face, for oh, how glad I was 
to see her ! made her burst into tears before she knew what 
she was crying for. 

' Mrs. Norman Wliite, mother of the Rev. Erskine N. White, D.D., of New York. 

" Her cousin, whose sudden death occurred under the same roof in October of the nex 
y«ar. 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 137 

" Oh, go bring me news from my poor dying baby ! " I 
almost screamed, as she approached me. " And see, here are 
her grave-clothes." "Oh, Lizzy, have you gone crazy?" cried 
she, with a fresh burst of tears. I besought her to go, told her 
how my promise bound mc, made her listen to those terrible 
sounds which two doors coald not shut out. As ehe left the 
room she met Dr. B. and they went to the nursery together. 
She soon came back, quiet and composed, but very sorrowful. 
"Yes, she is dying," said she, "the doctor says so; she will 
not live an hour." .... At last we heard the sound of George's 
key. Louise ran to call him. I crawled once more to the 
nursery, and snatched my baby in fierce triumph from the 
nurse. At least once I would hold my child, and nobody 
should prevent me. George, pale as death, baptized her as I 
held her in my trembling arms ; there were a few more of 
those terrible, never-to-be-forgotten sounds, and at seven o'clock 
we were once more left with only one child. A short, sharp 
conflict, and our baby was gone. 

Dr. B. came in later and said the whole thing was to him 
like a thunderclap — as it was to her poor father. To me it fol- 
lowed closely on the presentiment that in some measure pre- 
pared me for it. Here I sit with empty hands. I have had the 
little coffin in my arms, but my baby's face could not be seen, 
so rudely had death marred it. Empty hands, empty hands, a 
worn-out, exhausted body, and unutterable longings to flee 
from a world that has had for me so many sharp experiences. 
God help me, my baby, my baby ! God help me, my little lost 
Eddy! 

But although the death of these two children tore witli 
anguish the mother's heart, she made no show of grief, and to 
the eye of the world her life soon appeared to move on as 
aforetime. Never again, however, was it exactly tlie same 
life. She had entered into the fellowship of Christ's suffer- 
ings, and the new experience wrought a great change in her 
whole being. 

A part of the summer and the early autumn of 1852 were 
passed among kind friends at Newport, in Portland, and at 
the Ocean House on Cape Elizabeth. She returned much re- 
freshed, and gave herself up chc:rfully to her accustomed 



,^3 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

duties. But a cloud rested still upon her home, and at tim<is 
the old -rief came back again with renewed poignancy. Here 
are a few lines expressive of her feelings. They were written 
in pencil on a little scrap of paper: 

MY NURSERY. 1852. 

I thought that prattling boys and girls 
Would fill this empty room ; 
That my rich heart would gather flowers 
From childhood's opening bloom. 

One child and two green graves are mine, 
This is God's gift to me; 
A bleeding, fainting, broken heart— 
This is my gift to Thee. 



III. 

Summer ^.\. White Lake. Sudden Death of her Cousin, Miss Shipman. Quarantined. 
Little Susv's Six Birthdays. How she wrote it. The Floiver of the Family. Her 
M.:)tive in 'writing it. Letter of Sympathy to a bereaved Mother. A Summer at 
the Seaside. Henry and Bessie. 

TiiK year 1853 was passed quietly and in better health. In 
the early summer she made a delightful visit at The Island, 
near West Point, the home of the author of ''The Wide, 
Wide World." She was warmly attached to Miss Warner and 
her sister, and hardly less so to their father and aunt, whose 
presence then adorned that pleasant home with so much light 
and sweetness. 

Rarly in August she went with her husband and child to 
White Lake, Sullivan Co., N. Y., where, in company with 
several families from the Mercer street church, she spent six 
weeks in breathing the pure country air, and in healthful out- 
door exercise.' 

About the middle of October she was greatly distressed 

• "We were all weifjhed soon after coming here," she wrote, " and my ladyship weighed 
96, which makes me out by far the leanest of the ladies here. When thirteen years old 
I weighed but 50 pounds." 



IN THE SCHOOT. OF SUFFERING. 139 

by the sudden death of the young cousin, already mention- 
ed, who was staying with her during her husband's absence 
on a visit to New Bedford. Miss Shipman was a bright, at 
tr-ictive girl, and enthusiastic in her devotion to Mrs. Prentiss. 
The latter, in a letter to her husband, dated Saturday morning, 
October 15th, 1853, writes : 

I imagine you enjoying this fine morning, and can't rejoice 
enough, that you are having such weather. A. is bright and 
well and is playing in her baby-house and singing. Louise is 
still quite sick, and I see no prospect of her not remaining so 
for some time. The morning after you left I thought to be 
sure she had the small-pox. The doctor, however, calls it a 
rash. It makes her look dreadfully and feel dreadfully. She 
gets hardly a moment of sleep and takes next to no nourish- 
ment. Arrowroot is all the doctor allows. He comes twice a 
day and seems very kind and full of compassion. She crawled 
down this morning to the nursery, and seems to be asleep now. 
Mrs. Bull very kindly offered to come and do anything if Louise 
should need it, but I do not think she will be sick enough for 
that. I feel well and able to do all that is necessary. The last 
proof-sheets came last night, so that job is off my hands.' And 
now, darling, I can't tell you how I miss you. I never missed 
you more in my life, if as much. I hope you are having a nice 
visit. Give my love to Capt. and Mrs. Gibbs and all our friends. 
Your most loving little wife. 

On the following Wednesday, October 19th, she writes to 
her husband's mother : 

You will be shocked to hear that Louisa Shipman died on 
Sunday night and was buried yesterday. Her disease was spot- 
ted fever of the most malignant character, and raged with 
great fury. She dropped away most unexpectedly to us, before 
I had known five minutes that she was in danger, and I came 
rear being entirely alone with her. Dr. M. happened to be 
here and also her step-mother; but I had been alone in tlie 
house with her all day. It is a dreadful shock to us ail, and I 
feel perfectly stupefied. George got home in time for the 
funeral, but Dr. Skinner performed the services. Anna will gc 

» Referring to " Little Susy's Six BiilhJays." 



,40 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

home to-morrow and tell you all about it. She and Mr. S. slept 
away, as the upper part of the house is airing ; and to-night 
they will sleep at Prof. Smith's. 

The case was even more fearful than she supposed while 
writincT this letter. Upon her describing it to Dr. Buck, who 
called a few hours later, he exclainned, ''Why, it was malignant 
small-pox! You must all be vaccinated instantly and have the 
bedding and house disinfected." This was done ; but it was 
too late Her little daughter had the disease, though in a 
mild form ; and one of her brothers, who was passing the 
autumn with her, had it so severely as barely to escape with 
his life. She herself became a nurse to them both, and passed 
the next two months quarantined within her own walls. To 
her husl and's mother she wrote : 

I am not allowed to see anyone — am very lonesome, and hope 
Anna will write and tell me every little thing about you all. 
The scenes I have lately passed through make me tremble when 
I think what a fatal malady lurks in every corner of our house. 
And speaking after the manner of men, does it not seem almost 
incredible that this child, watched from her birth like the apple 
of our eyes, should yet fall into the jaws of this loathsome dis- 
ease ? I see more and more that parents must leave their chil- 
dren to Providence. 

In the early part of this year Mrs. Prentiss wrote Little 
Susys Six Birthdays, the book that has given so much de- 
li^dit to tens of thousands of little children, wherever the En- 
glish tongue is spoken. Like most of her books, it was an 
inspiration and was composed with the utmost rapidity. She 
read the different chapters, as they were written, to her hus- 
band, chihi and brother, who all with one voice expressed their 
adiuiratic^n. In about ten days the work was finished. The 
manuscript was in a clear, delicate hand and without an 
erasure. Ui)(~)n its publication it was at once recognised as a 
profluction of real genius, inimitable in its kind, and neither 
the po])ular verdict nor the verdict of the children as to its 
merits has ever changed. 

Mrs. Prentiss, as has been slated already, began to write 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 



141 



for the press at an early age. But from the time of her going 
to Richmond till 1853— a period of thirteen years— her pen 
was well nigh idle, except in the way of correspondence. 
When, therefore, she gave herself again to literary labor, it 
was with a largely increased fund of knowledge and experience 
upon which to draw. These thirteen years had taught hci 
rich lessons, both in literature and in life. They h.id been 
especially fruitful in revealing to her the heart of childhood 
and quickening her sympathy with its joys and sorrows. And 
all these lessons prepared her to write Little Susy's Six Birth- 
days and the other Susy books. 

The year 1854 was marked by the birth of her fourth child, 
and by the publication of The Floivcr of the Family. This 
work was received with great favor both at home and abroad. 
It was soon translated into French under the title, La Fleiir de 
la Famille, and later into German under the title, Die Perle 
der Familie. In both languages it received the warmest praise. 

In a letter to her friend Mrs. Clark, of Portland, she thus 
refers to this book : 

I long to have it doing good. I never had such desires 
about anything in my life ; and I never sat down to write 
without first praying that I might not be suffered to write any- 
thing that would do harm, and that, on the contrary, I might 
be taught to say what would do good. And it has been a great 
comfort to me that every word of praise I ever have received 
from others concerning it has been "it will do good," and this 
I have had from so many sources that amid much trial and 
sickness ever since its publication, I have had rays of sunshine 
creeping in now and then to cheer and sustain me. 

To the same friend, just bereft of her two children, she 
writes a few months later: 

Is it possible, is it possible that you are made childless ? I 
feel distressed for you, my dear friend ; I long to fly to you 
and weep with you ; it seems as if I must say or do something 
to comfort you. But God only can help you now, and how 
thankful I am for a throne of grace and power where I can com- 
mend you, again and again, to Him who doeth all things well 



,42 THE LIFE OE MRS. PRENTISS. 

I never realise my own affliction in the loss of my children a5 
I do when death enters the house of a friend. Then I feel that 
/ cant have it so. But why should I think I know better than my 
Divine Master what is good for me, or good for those I love ' 
Dear Carrie, I trust that in this hour of sorrow you have with you 
that Presence, before which alone sorrow and sighing flee away. 
God is left ; Christ is left ; sickness, accident, death can not 
touch you here. Is not this a blissful thought ? .... As I sit 
at my desk my eye is attracted by the row of books before me, 
and what a comment on life are their very titles : " Songs in 
the Night," "Light on Little Graves," "The Night of Weep- 
ing," "The Death of Little Children," "The Folded Lamb," 
"The Broken Bud," these have stra3-ed one by one into my 
small enclosure, to speak peradventure a word in season unto 
my weariness. x\nd yet, dear Carrie, this is not all of life. You 
and I have tasted some of its highest joys, as well as its deepest 
sorrows, and it has in reserve for us only just what is best for 
us. May sorrow bring us both nearer to Christ ! I can almost 
fancy my little Eddy has taken your little Maymee by the 
hand and led her to the bosom of Jesus. How strange our 
children, our own little infants, have seen Him in His glory, 
whom we are only yet longing for and struggling towards ! 

If it will not frighten you to own a Unitarian book, there is 
one called "Christian Consolation" by Rev. A. P. Peabody, 
that I think you w^ould find very profitable. I see nothing, or 
next to nothing, Unitarian in it, while it is /////of rich, holy ex- 
perience. One sermon on "Contingent Events and Provi- 
dence " touches your case exactly. 

No event of special importance marked the year 1855. She 
spent the month of July among her friends in Portland, and 
the next six weeks at the Ocean House on Cape Elizabeth. 
This was one of her favorite places of rest. She never tired 
of watching the waves and their " multitudinous laughter," of 
listening to the roar of the breakers, or climbing the rocks and 
wandering along the shore in quest of shells and sea-grasses. 
lu gathering and pressing the latter, she passed many a happy 
hour. In August of this year appeared one of her best chil- 
dren's books, Ilcnry and Bessie ; or. What they Did in the 
Country. 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. I43 

IV. 

A Memorable Year. Lines on the Anniversary of Eddy's Death. Extracts from he! 
Journal. Little Susy's Six Teachers. The Teachers' Meeting. A New York 
Waif. Summer in the Country. Letters. Little Susy's Little Servants. Ex« 
tracts from her Journal. " Alone with God." 

The records of the year 1856 are singularly full and inter- 
esting. It was a year of poignant suffering, of sharp conflicts 
of soul, and of great peace and joy. Its earlier months, es- 
pecially, were shadowed by a dark cloud of anxiety and dis- 
tress. And her feeble bodily state caused by care-worn days 
and sleepless nights, added to the trouble. Old sorrows, too, 
came back again. On the i6th of January, the anniversary of 
Eddy's death, she gave vent to her feelings in some pathetic 
v/erses, of which the following lines form a part 

Four years, four weary years, my child, 
Four years ago to-night, 
With parting cry of anguish wild 
Thy spirit took its flight ; ah me ! 
Took its eternal flight. 

And in that hour of mortal strife 

I thought I felt the throe, 

The birth-pang of a grief, whose life 

Must soothe my tearless woe, must soothe 

And ease me of my woe. 

Yet folded far through all these years, 
Folded from mortal eyes. 
Lying alas "too deep for tears," 
Unborn, unborn it lies, within 
My heart of heart it lies. 

My sinless child ! upon thy knees 
Before the Master pray ; 
Methinks thy infant hands might seize 
And shed upon my way sweet peace ; 
Sweet peace upon my way. 

Here follow some extracts from her journal. 

Jan 2,d. 1856.— Had no time to write on New Year's day, as 



J 44 ' THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

we had a host of callers. It was a very hard day, as I was quite 
unwell, and had at last to give up and go to bed. 

15///. — Am quite uneasy about baby, as it seems almost im- 
possible she should long endure such severe pain and want of 
sleep. My life is a very anxious one. I feel every day more 
and more longing for my home in heaven. Sometimes I fear 
it amounts almost to a sinful longing — for surely I ought to be 
willing to live or die, just as God pleases. 

Feb. \st. — I have had no heart to make a record of what has 
befallen us since I last wrote. And yet I may, sometime, want 
to recall this experience, painful as it is. Dear little baby had 
been improving in health, and on Wednesday we went to 
dine at Mrs. Wainright's. We went at four. About eight, 
word came that she was ill. When I got home I found her 
insensible, with her eyes wide open, her breathing terrific, and 
her condition in every respect very alarming. Just as Dr. Buck 
was coming in, she roused a little, but soon relapsed into the 
same state. He told us she was dying. I felt like a stone. In 
a moment I seemed to give up my hold on her. She appeared 
no longer mine but God's. It is always so in such great 
emergencies. TJien, my will that struggles so about trifles, 
makes no effort. But as we sat hour after hour watching the 
alternations of color in her purple face and listening to that ter- 
rible gasping, rattling sound, I said to myself " A few more 
nights like this, and I do believe my body and soul would yield 
to such anguisn." Oh, why should I try to tell myself what a 
night it was. God knows, God only ! How^ He has smitten 
ine b} means of this child, He well knows. She remained thus 
about twelve hours. Twelve hours of martyrdom to me such 
as I never had known. Then to our unspeakable amazement 
she roused up, nursed, and then fell into a sweet sleep of some 
hours. 

Sunday^ Feb. yL — The stupor, or whatever it is, in which 
that dreadful night has left me, is on me still. I have no more 
sense or feeling than a stone. I kneel down before God and do 
not say a word. I take up a book and read, but get hold of 
nothing. At church I felt afraid I should fall upon the people 
and tear them. I could wish no one to pity me or even know 
that I am smitten. It does seem to me that those who can sit 
down and cry, know nothing of misery. 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 145 

Feb. Afth. — At last the ice melts and I can get near my God— 
my only comfort, my only joy, my All in all ! This morning I 
was able to open my heart to Him and to cast some of this 

burden on Ilim, who alone knows what it is I see that it 

Is sweet to be a pilgrim and a stranger, and that it matters vtn 
little what befalls me on the way to my blessed home. If G(k1 
pleases to spare my child a little longer, I will be very thank- 
ful. . May He take this season, when earthly comfort fails me 
to turn me more than ever to Himself. For some months 1 
have enjoyed a great deal in Him. Prayer has been very sweet 
and I have had some glimpses of joys indescribable. 

dth. — She still lives. I know not what to think. One mo 
ment I think one thing and the next another. It is harder to 
submit to this suspense than to a real, decided blow. But I 
desire to leave it to my God. He knows all her history and all 
mine. He orders all these aggravating circumstances and I 
would not change them. My darling has not lived in vain. 
For eighteen months she has been the little rod used by my 
Father for my chastisement and not, I think, quite in vain. 
Oh my God ! stay not Thy hand till Thou hast perfected thai 
w^hich concerneth me. Send anything rather than unsanctified 
prosperity. 

Feb. 10th. — To help divert my mind from such incessant 
brooding over my sorrows, I am writing a new book. I had 
just begun it when baby's ill-turn arrested me. I trust it may 
do some little good ; at least I would not dare to write it, if it 
could do none. May God bless it ! 

Feb. 14th. — Wanted to go to the prayer-meeting but con- 
cluded to take A. to hear Gough at the Tabernacle. Seeing 
such a crowd always makes me long to be in that happy crowd 
of saints and angels in heaven, and hearing childn^n sing so 
sweetly made me pray for an entrance into the singing, prais- 
ing multitude there. Oh, when shall I be one of that blessed 
company who sin not ! My book is done ; may God bless it to 
one child at least — then it will not have been wasted time. 

The book referred to was Little Susys Six TcacJurs. 
It was published in the spring, and at once took its place be- 
side the Six Birthdays in the hearts of the children ; a place 
it still continues to hold. The six teachers are Mrs. Love. 
10 



146 THE LIFE OF MRS. PrENTISS. 

Mr. Pain, Aunt Patience, Mr. Ought, Miss Joy, and the angel 
l^^aith. At the end of six years they hold a meeting and re- 
port to little Susy's parents what they have been doing. The 
closing chapter, herewith quoted, gives an account of this 
meeting, and may serve as a specimen of the style and spirit 
of all the Little Susy books. 

" If Mr. Pain is to be at the meeting, I can't go," said Miss Joy. 

She stood on tip-toe before the glass, dressing herself in holiday clothes. 

" Perhaps he would be willing to leave his rod behind him," said Mrs. 
Love. " I will ask him at all events." 

Mr. Pain thought he should not feci at home without his rod. He said 
he always liked to have it in his hands, wlicLher he was to use it or not. 

Miss Joy was full of fun and mischief about this time, so she slipped up 
slyly behind Mr. Pain while he was talking and snatched away the rod be- 
fore he could turn round. Mrs. Love smiled on seeing this little trick, and 
they all went down to the parlor and seated themselves with much gravity. 
Little Susy sat in the midst in her own low chair looking wide awake, you 
may depend. Her papa and mamma sat on each side like two judges. 
Mrs. Love rocked herself in the rocking-chair in a contented, easy way, 
and Aunt Patience, who liked to do such things, helped Miss Joy to find 
the leaves of her report — which might have been rose-leaves, they were so 
small. 

Mr. Ought looked very good indeed, and the angel Faith shone across 
the room like a sunbeam. 

" Susy will be six years old to-morrow," said her papa. " You have all 
been teaching her ever since she was born. We will now^ listen to your re- 
ports and hear what you have taught her, and whether you have done her 
any good." 

They were all silent, but everybody looked Pt Mrs, Love as much as to 
say she should begin. Mrs. Love took out a littL book with a sky-blue 
cover and began to read : 

" 1 have not done much for Susy, but love her dearly ; and I have not 
taught her much, but to love everybo;ly. When she was a baby I tried to 
teach her to smile, but I don't think I could have taught her if Miss Joy had 
nrit hclpt-d me. And when she was sick, I w^as always sorry for her, and 
tiied to comfort her." 

" Vou iiave done her a great deal of good," said Susy's papa, "we will 
engage you to stay six years longer, should God spare her life." 

Then Mr. Pain took up his book. It had a bhick cover, but the leaves 
Welt gill-cdged and the cover was spangled with stars. 

*• I hnve punished Susy a good many times," said Mr. Pain. " Some- 
times I slapped her with my hand ; sometimes I struck her with my rod ; 
scinetinics I made her sick; but I never did any of these things because I 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. I47 

A^as angry with her or liked to hurt her. I only came when Mrs. Love 
called me." 

" You have taught her excellent lessons," said Susy's papa, " if it had 
not been for you she would be growing up disobedient and selfish. You 
may stay six years longer." 

Then Mr. Pain made a low bow and said he was thinking of goi;tg 
away and sending his brother, Mr, Sorrow, and his sister, Mrs. Disappoint- 
ment, to take his place." 

"Oh, no!" cried Susy's mamma, "not yet, not yet! Susy is still so 
little ! " 

Then Mr. Pain said he would stay without a rod, as Susy was now too 
old to be whipped. 

Then Miss Joy took up her book with its rainbow cover and tried tc 
read. But she laughed so heartily all the time, and her leaves kept flying 
out of her hands at such a rate, that it was not possible to understand what 
she was saying. It was all about clapping hands and running races, and 
picking flowers and having a good time. Everybody laughed just because 
she laughed, and Susy's papa could hardly keep his face grave long enough 
to say : 

"You have done more good than tongue can tell. You have made her 
just such a merry, happy, laughing little creature as I wanted her to be. 
You must certainly stay six years longer." 

Then Mr. Ought drew forth his book. It had silver covers and its 
leaves were of the most delicate tissue. 

" I have taught little Susy to be good," said he. "Never to touch what 
is not hers; never to speak a word that is not true; never to have a thought 
she would not like the great and holy God to see. If I stay six years longer 
I can teach her a great deal more, for she begins now to understand my 
faintest whisper. She is such a little girl as 1 love to live with." 

Then Susy turned rosy-red with pleasure, and her papa and mamma 
got up and shook hands with Mr. Ought and begged him never, never to 
leave their darling child as long as she lived. 

It was now the turn of Aunt Patience. Her book had covers wrought 
by her own hands in grave and gay colors well mingled together. 

" When I first came here," she said, " Susy used to cry a great deal 
whenever she was hurt or punished. When she was sick she was very hard 
to please. When she sat down to learn to sew and to read and to write 
she would break her thread in anger, or throw her book on the Moor, or de- 
clare she never could learn. But now she has left off crying when she is 
hurt, and tries to bear tne pain quietly. When she is sick she does not ftet 
or complain, but takes her medicine without a worrl. When she is sewing 
she does not twitch her thread into knots, and when she is writing she 
writes slowly and carefully. 1 have rocked her to sleep a thousand times. 
I have been shut up in a closet with her again and again, and 1 hope 1 have 
done her some good and taught her som- useful lessons." 



148 'ini': i.ifi- of mrs. prentiss. 

" Indeed you have, Aunt Patience," said Susy's papa, "but Susy is not 
yet perfect. We shall need you six years longer." 

And now the little angel Faith opened his golden book and began to 
read : 

" I have taught Susy that there is another world besides this, and h.ivt: 
told her that it is her real home, and what a beautiful and happy one i^ is. 
1 have told her a great deal about Jesus and the holy angels. I do not 
know much myself. I am not very old, but if I stay here six years longer 
I shall grow wiser and I will teach Susy all I learn, and we will pray to- 
gether everv morning and every night, till at last she loves the Lord Jesus 
with all her heart and soul and mind and strength." 

Then Susy's papa and mamma looked at each other and smiled, and 
they both said : 

" Oh, beautiful angel, never leave her ! " 

And the angel answered : 

" I will stay with her as long as she lives, and will never leave her till 1 
leave her at the very door of heaven." 

Then the teachers began to put up their books, and Susy's papa and 
mamma kissed her, and said : 

"We have had a great deal of comfort in our little daughter ; and, with 
God's blessing, we shall see her grow up a loving, patient, and obedient 
child — full of joy and peace and rich in faith and good works.'' 

So they all bade each other good-nigiit and went thankfully to bed. 

The next entry in the journal notes a trait of character, or 
rather of temperament, which often excited the wonder and 
also the anxiety of her friends. It caused her no little dis- 
comfort, but she could never withstand its power. 

March 2\st. — I have been busy with a sewing fit and find 
the least interesting piece of work I can get hold of, as great a 
temptation as the most charming. For if its cliarm does not 
absorb my time and thoughts, the eager haste to finish and get 
it nut of the way, does. This is my life. I either am stupefied 
by iil-licalth or sorrow, so as to feel no interest in anything, or 
am absorbed in whatever business, work or pleasure I hav( on 
hinid. 

But neither anxiety about her child, household cares, or 
any work she had in hand, so absorbed her thoughts as to 
render her insensible to the sorrows and trials of others. On 
the contrary, they served rather to call forth and intensify he? 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 149 

kindly sympathies. A single case will illustrate this. A poor 
little girl — one of those waifs of humanity in which a great 
city abounds — had been commended to her by a friend. In a 
letter to this friend, dated March 17, 1856, she writes: 

That little girl came, petticoat and all ; we gave her some 
breakfast, and I then went down with her to Avenue A. On 
the way, she told me that you gave her some money. To my 
great sorrow we found, on reaching the school, that they could 
not take another one, as they were already overflowing. As we 
came out, I saw that the poor little soul was just ready to burst 
into tears, and said to her " Now you're disappointed, I know ! " 
whereupon she actually looked up into my face and smiled. 
You know I was afraid, I never should make her smile, she 
looked so forlorn, I brought her home to get some books, as 
she said she could read, and she is to come again to-morrow. 
A lady to w^hom I told the whole story, sent me some stockings 
that would about go on to her big toe ; however, they will be 
nice for her little sister. The weather has been so mild that I 
thought it would not be worth while to make her a cloak or 
anything of that sort ; but next fall I shall see that she is 
comfortably clad, if she behaves as well as she did the day she 
was here. Oh, dear ! what a drop in the great bucket of New 
York misery, one such child is ! Yet somebody must look out 
for the drops, and I am only too thankful to seize on this one. 

In June she went, with the children, to Westport, Conn., 
where in rural quiet and seclusion she passed the next three 
months. Here are some extracts from her letters, written 
from that place : 

Westport, June 1^, 1S56. 

We had a most comfortable time getting here ; both the 
children enjoyed the ride, and baby seemed unusually briglit. 
Judge Betts was very attentive and kind to us. Mrs. G. grow? 
more and more pleasant every day. We have plenty of good 
food, but she worries because I do not eat more. You know I 
never was famous for eating meat, and country dinners are not 
tempting. You can't think how we enjoy seeing the poultry 
fed. There are a hundred and eighty hens and chickens, and 
you should see baby throw her little hand full of corn to them 



I50 THE LIFE OF MKS. PRENTISS. 

We went strawberrying yesterday, all of us, and the way she 
was poked through bars and lifted over stone-w^alls w^ould have 
amused you. She is already quite sunburnt ; but I think she 
is looking sweetly. 1 find myself all the time peep'ng out of 
the window, thinking every step is yours, or that every wagon 
holds a letter for me. 

Mr P. enclosed your kind note in one of his own, after first 
reading it himself, if you ever heard of such a man. I 
fl. ircchey, had to laugh all alone while reading it, w^hich was not 
^^'^uue^' a little provoking. We are having very nice times 
here indeed. Breakfast at eight, dinner at half-past 
twelve, and tea at half-past six, giving us an afternoon of un- 
precedented length for such lounging, strawberrying or egg- 
hunting as happens to be on the carpet. The air is perfectly 
loaded with the fragrance of clover blossoms and fresh hay. I 
never saw such clover in my life ; roses are nothing in com- 
parison. I only want an old nag and a wagon, so as to drive a 
load of children about these lovely regions, and that I hope 
every moment to attain. To be sure, it w'ould be amazingly 
convenient if I had a table, and didn't have to sit on the floor 
to write upon a trunk ; but then one can't have everything, 
and I am almost too comfortable w^ith w^hat I have. A. is busy 
reading Southey to her " children " ; baby is off searching for 
eggs, and her felicity reached its height when she found an 
ambitious hen had laid two in her carriage, which little thought 
what it was coming to the country for. I think the dear child 
already looks better; she lives in the open air and enjoys every- 
thing. 

Mrs. Buck lives about half a mile below us, and we run 
back and forth many times a day. I have already caught the 
country fashion of rushing to the window^s the moment a wheel 
or an o])cning gate is heard. I fancy everybody is bringing mo 
a letter or else want to send one to the office, and the only way 
1 1 do that is to scream at passers-by and ask them if they are 
going that way. If you hear that I am often seen driving a 
flock of geese down the road, or climbing stone walls, or cree]>- 
ing through bar fences, you needn't believe a w^ord of it, for 1 
am a pattern of propriety, and pride myself on my dignity. I 
hope, now ycni have begun so charmingly, that you will write 
again Vvu know wiiat letters are in the country. 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 151 

I wonder where you are this lovely morning? Having 
nice time somewhere, I do hope, for it is too fine a 

To her I Jus- , , t ,. 1 it 

land. West- day to be lost. If you want to know where 1 am, 
P^^'^^y^""^ ^vhy I'm sitting at the window writing on a trunk tliat 
I have just lifted into a chair, in order to make a table. 
For table there is none in this room, and how am I to write a 
book without one ? If ever I get down to the village, I hope 
to buy, beg, borrow or steal one, and until that time am put- 
ting off beginning my new Little Susy.' That note from Miss 
Warner, by the by, spoke so enthusiastically of the Six Teach- 
ers that I felt compensated for the mortification of hearing 

call it a "nice " book. You will be sorry to hear that I 

have no prospect of getting a horse. I am quite disappointed, 
as besides the pleasure of driving our children, I hoped to give 
Mrs. Back and the boys a share in it. Only to think of her 
bringing up from the city a beefsteak for baby, and proposing 
that the doctor should send a small piece for her every day ! 
Thank you, darling, for your proposal about the Ocean House. 
I trust no such change will be needful. We are all comfortable 
now, the weather is delicious, and there are so many pretty 
walks about here, that I am only afraid I shall be too well off. 
Everything about the country is charming to me, and I never 
get tired of it. The first few days nurse seemed a good deal 
out of sorts ; but I must expect some such little vexations ; of 
course, I can not have perfection, and for dear baby's sake I 
shall try to exercise all the prudence and forbearance I can. 

Sunday. — We went to church this morning and heard a most 
instructive and, I thought, superior sermon from Mr. Burr of 
Weston, on progress in religious knowledge. He used the very 
illustration about the cavern and the point of light that yon did. 

j^^ly ^th.—W^ all drove to the beach on Saturday. It was 
just the very day for such a trip, and baby was enchanted. She 
sat right down and began to gather stones and shells, as if she 
had the week before her. We were gone three liours and came 
home by way of the village, quite -in the mood for supper. 
Yesterday we^ had a pleasant service ; Mr. Atkinson appears to 
be a truly devout, heavenly man to whom I felt my heart knit 
at the outset on this account. I am taking great delight in 
reading the Memoir of Miss Allibone.' How I wish I had a 

' Liftfe SttsVs Little Servaitfs. 

' A Life hid with Christ in Go<l, being a memuir of Susan AUibone. By .\lfred Lee, 
Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Delaware. 



152 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

friend of so heavenly a temper ! I fear my new Little Susy will 
come out at the little end of the horn. I am sure it won't be 
so good as the others. It is more than one quarter done. 

July 2i.f/.— What do 3^ou think I did this forenoon ? Why, 1 
finished Little Susy and shall lay it aside for some days, 
when I shall read it over, correct, and pack it off out of the 
way. Yes, I wish you would bring my German Hymn Book. 
I am so glad you liked the hymns I had marked ! ' And do 
get well so as not to have to leave off preaching the Gospel. 
My heart dies within me whenever I think of your leaving the 
ministry. Every day I live, it appears to me that the office of 
a Christian pastor and teacher is the best in the world. I shall 
not be able to write you a word to-morrow, as we are to go to 
Greenfield Hill to Miss Murray's, and you must take to-mor- 
row's love to-night — if you think you can stand so much at 
once. God be with you and bless you. 

Julv loth. — Baby and I have just been having a great frolic. 
She was so pleased with your message that she caught up your 
letter and kissed it, which I think very remarkable in a child 
who, I am sure, never saw such a thing done. A. seems well 
and happy, and is as good as I think we ought to expect. I see 
more and more every day, that if there ever was such a thing 
as human perfection, it was as long ago as David's time when, 
as he says, he saw the " end " of it. How very kind the W.'s 
have been ! 

Aii^riist zd.—\ got hold of Dr. Boardman's " Bible in the 
Family," at the Bucks yesterday, and brought it home to read. 
I like it very much. There is a vein of humor running through 
it which, subdued as it is, must have awakened a good many 
smiles. He quotes some lines of Coleridge, which I wonder I 
did not have as a motto for Susy's Teachers : 

Love, Hope and Patience, these must be thy graces, 
And in thine own heart let them first keep school. 

Dr. Buck, who has seen her twice since we came here, thinks 

baby wonderfully improved, and says every day she 

Mary B. livcs increases her chance of life. I have been exceed- 

n'-fsTpo"}, i"gly encouraged by all he has said, and feel a great 

Axtj^ustix. \q-^(\ off my heart. Last Friday, on fifteen minutes 

' See appendix C, p. 539. 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 153 

notice, I packed up and went home^ taking nurse and biddies 
of course. I was so restless and so perfectly possessed to go to 
meet George, that I could not help it. We went in the six 
o'clock train, as it was after five when I was "taken" with the 
fit that started uie off; got home in a soft rain, and to ou' 
great surprise and delight found G. there, he having got home- 
sick at Saratoga, and just rushed to New York on his way here. 
We had a great rejoicing together, you may depend, and I had 
a charming visit of nearly three days. We got back on Mon- 
day night, rather tired, but none of us at all the worse for the 
expedition. Mr. P. sits here reading the Tribune, and A. is 
reading " Fremont's Life." She is as brown as an Indian and 
about as wild. 

A few passages from her journal will also throw light upon 
this period: 

June 2iOth. — I am finding this solitude and leisure very sweet 
and precious ; God grant it may bear the rich and abundant 
fruit it ought to do ! Communion with Him is such a blessing, 
here at home in my own room, and out in the silent woods and 
on the wayside. Saturday, especially, I had a long walk full of 
blissful thoughts of Him whom I do believe I love — oh, that I 
loved Him better ! — and in the evening Mrs. Buck came and we 
had some very sweet beginnings of what will, I trust, ripen into 
most profitable Christian communion. My heart delights in 
the society of those who love Him. Yesterday I had a more 
near access to God in prayer than usual, so that during the 
whole service at church I could hardly repress tears of joy and 
gratitude. 

July "jfk. — I do trust God's blessed, blessed Spirit is dealing 
faithfully with my soul — searching and sifting it, revealing it 
somewhat to itself and preparing it for the indwelling of Christ. 
This I do heartily desire. Oh, God ! search me and know me, 
and show me my own guilty, poor, meagre soul, that I may 
turn from it, humbled and ashamed and penitent, to my blessed 
Saviour. How very, very thankful I feel for this seclusion and 
leisure ; this quiet room where I can seek my God and pray 
and praise, unseen by any human eye — and which sometimes 
seems like the very gate of heaven. 



,54 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

July 23,/ —This is my dear little baby's birthday. I was not 
able to sleep last night at all, but at last got up and prayed 
specially for her. God has spared her two years ; I can hardl> 
believe it ! Precious years of discipline they have been, fo; 
which I do thank Him. I have prayed much for her to-day, 
aid with some faith, that if her life is spared it will be for His 
glory. How far rather would I let her go this moment, than 
grow up without loving Him ! Precious little creature ! 

27//;._This has been one of the most oppressive days I ever 
knew. I went to church, however, and enjoyed all the services 
unusually. As we rode along and I saw the grain ripe for the 
harvest, I said to myself, " God gathers in His harvest as soon 
as it is ripe, and if I devote myself to Him and pray much and 
turn entirely from the world I shall ripen, and so the sooner 
get where I am all the time yearning and longing to go ! " I fear 
this was a merely selfish thought, but I do not know. This 
world seems less and less homelike every day I live. The more 
I pray and meditate on heaven and my Saviour and saints who 
have crossed the flood, the stronger grows my desire to be bid- 
den to depart hence and go up to that sinless, blessed abode. 
Not that I forget my comforts, my mercies here ; they are mani- 
fold ; I know they are. But Christ appears so precious ; sin so 
dreadful ! so dreadful ! To-day I gave way to pride and irri- 
tation, and my agony on account of it outweighs weeks of 
merely earthly felicity. The idea of a Christian as he should 
be, and the reality of most Christians — particularly myself — 
why, it almost makes me shudder ; my only comfort is, in heav- 
en, I can not sin ! In heaven I shall see Christ, and see Him as 
He is, and praise and honor Him as I never do and never shall 
do here. And yet I know my dear little ones need me, poor 
and imperfect a mother as I am ; and I pray every hour to be 
made willing to wait for their sakes. For at the longest it will 
not be long. Oh, I do believe it is the sin I dread and not the 
suffering of life — but I know not ; I may be deluded. My love 
to my Master seems to me very shallow and contemptible. I 
an astonished that I love anything else. Oh, that He would 
this moment come down into this room and tell me I never 
never, shall grieve Him again ! 

Some verses entitled 'Alone with God," belong here: 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 1^5 

Into my closet fleeing, as the dove 

Doth homeward flee, 
I haste away to ponder o'er Thy love 

Alone with Thee ! 

In the dim wood, by Laman ear unheard, 

Joyous and free, 
Lord ! I adore Thee, feasting on Thy word, 

Alone with Thee ! 

Amid the busy city, thronged and gay, 

But One I see, 
Tasting sweet peace, as unobserved I pray 

Alone with Thee ! 

Oh, sweetest life ! Life hid with Christ in God ' 

So making me 
At home, and by the wayside, and abroad. 

Alone with Thee ! 



Westport, August 22, 1S56. 



V. 

R2ady for new Trials. Dang-erous Illness. Extracts from her Journal, Visit to Green- 
wood. Sabbath Meditations. Birth of another Son. Her Husband resigns hij 
pastoral Charge. Voyage to Europe. 

The summer at Westport was so beneficial to the baby 
and so full both of bodily and spiritual refreshment to herself, 
that on returning to town, she resumed her home tasks with 
unwonted ease and comfort. The next entry in her journal 
alludes to this: 

N'oveinber 27///. — Two months, and not a word in my journal ! 
I have done far more with my needle and my feet than with 
my pen. One comes home from the country to a good many 
cares, and they are worldly cares, too, about eating and about 
wearing. I hope the worst of mine are over now and that I 
shall have more leisure. But no, I forget that now comes the 
dreaded, dreaded experience of weaning bab3^ But what then? 



156 THE LIFE OF MRS. I i^ENTISS. 

I have had a good rest this fall. Have slept unusunlly well 
why, only think, some nights not waking once— and some 
nights only a few times ; and then we have had no sickness 
haby better— all better. Now I ought to be willing to have 
:he trials I need so much, seeing I have had such a rest. And 
heaven ! heaven ! let me rest on that precious word. Heaven 
is at the end and God is there. 

Early in March, 1857, she was taken very ill and continued 
so until May. For son:ie weeks her recovery seemed hardly 
possible. She felt assured her hour had come and was eager 
to go. All the yearnings of her heart, during many years, 
seemed on the point of being gratified. The next entry in her 
journal refers to this illness: 

Sunday, May 24th, 1857. — Just reading over the last record 
how ashamed I felt of my faithlessness ! To see dear baby so 
improved by the very change I dreaded, and to hear her pretty, 
cheerful prattle, and to find in her such a source of jo} and 
comfort — what undeserved, what unlooked-for mercies ! But 
ike a physician who changes his remedies as he sees occasion, 
and who forbears using all his severe ones at once, my Father 
first relieved me from my wearing care and pain about this 
dear child, and then put me under new discipline. It is now 
nearly six months since I have been in usual health, and eight 
weeks of great prostration and suffering have been teaching me 
many needed lessons. Now, contrary to my hopes and expec- 
tations, I find myself almost well again. At first, having got 
my heart set toward heaven and after fancying myself almost 
there, 1 felt disappointed to find its gates still shut against me.^ 

But God was very good to me and taught me to yield in 
this point to His wiser and better will ; He made me, as far as 
I know, as peaceful in the prospect of living as joyful in the 
prospect of dying. Heaven did, indeed, look very attractive 

' Many year? afterward, speaking to a friend of this illness, she related the following 
incident. One day she lay, as was supposed, entirely unconscious and in articulo mor- 
tis. Repeated but vain attempts had been made to administer a medicine ordered by 
the doctor to bo used in case of extremity. Her husband urged one more attempt still ; 
it niicfht possibly sviccced. She heard distinctly every word that was spoken and instantly 
reasoned within herself, whether she should consent or refuse to swallow the medicine. 
Fancying herself just entering the eternal city, she longed to refuse but decided it would 
be wiong and so :onsented to come back again to earth. 



IN THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING. 157 

when I thought myself so near it ; I pictured myself as no 
longer a sinner but a blood-washed saint ; I thought I shall 
soon see Him whom my soul loveth, and see Him as He is ; 1 
shall never wound, never grieve Him again, and all my com- 
panions will be they who worship Him and adore Him. But 
not yet am I there ! Alas, not yet a saint ! My soul is op- 
pressed, now that health is returning, to find old habits of sin 
returning too, and this monster Self usurping God's place, as 
of old, and pride and love of ease and all the infirmities of the 
flesh thick upon me. After being encompassed with mercies 
for two months, having every comfort this world could offer 
for my alleviation, I wonder at myself that I can be anything 
but a meek, docile child, profiting by the Master's discipline, 
sensible of the tenderness that went hand-in-hand with every 
stroke, and walking softly before God and man ! But I am in- 
deed a wayward child and in need of many more stripes. May 
I be made willing and thankful to bear them. 

Indeed, I do thank my dear Master that He does not let me 
alone, and that He has let me suffer so much ; it has been a 
rich experience, this long illness, and I do trust He will so 
sanctify it that 1 shall have cause to rejoice over it all the rest 
of my life. Now may I return patiently to all the duties that 
lie in my sphere. May I not forget how mxomentous a thing 
death appeared when seen face to face, but be ever making 
ready for its approach. And may the glory of God be, as it 
never yet has been, my chief end. My love to Him seems to 
me so very feeble and fluctuating. Satan and self keep up a 
continual struggle to get the victory. But God is stronger 
than either. He must and will prevail, and at last, and in a 
time far better than any I can suggest, He will open those closed 
gates and let me enter in to go no more out, and then " I shall 
never, never sin." 

As might be inferred from this record, she was at this time 
in the sweetest mood, full of tenderness and love. The time 
of the singing of birds had now come, and all nature was 
clothed with that wondrous beauty and verdure whicli mark 
the transition from spring to summer. The drives, which 
she was now able to take into the country, on either side 
of the river, gave her the utmost delight. On the 30th of 



158 THE TJFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

May — the day that has since become consecrated to the mem- 
or>^ of the Nation's heroic dead — she went, with her husband 
and eldest daughter, to visit and place flowers upon the graves 
of Eddy and Bessie. Never is Greenwood more lovely and 
impressive than at the moment when May is just passing into 
June. It is as if Nature were in a transfiguration and the 
glory of the Lord shone upon the graves of our beloved ! Mrs. 
Prentiss made no record of this visit, but on the following 
day thus wrote in her journal : 

May 3IJ-/. — Another peaceful, pleasant Sunday, whose only 
drawback has been the want of strength to get down on my 
knees and praise and pray to my Saviour, as I long to do. For 
well as I am and astonishingly improved in every way, a very 
few minutes' use of my voice, even in a whisper, in prayer, ex- 
hausts me to such a degree that I am ready to faint. This 
seems so strange when I can go on talking to any extent — but 
then it is talking without emotion and in a desultory way. Ah 
well ! God knows best in what manner to let me live, and I 
desire to ask for nothing but a docile, acquiescent temper 
whose only petition shall be, " What wilt Thou have me to 
do?" not how can I get most enjoyment along the way. 1 can 
not believe if I am His child, that He will let anything hinder 
my progress in the divine life. It seems dreadful that I have 
gone on so slowly, and backward so many times — but then I 
liave been thinking this is "to humble and to prove me, and to 
do me good in the latter end." .... I thank my God and 
Saviour for every faint desire He gives me to see Him as He is, 
and to be changed into His image, and for every struggle 
against sin He enables me to make. It is all of Him. I do 
wisli I loved Him better ! I do wish He were never out of my 
thf)uglits and that the aim to do His will swallowed up all 
other desires and strivings. Satan whispers that will never be. 
r,iit it shall be ! One day— oh, longed-for, blessed, blissful 
day I — Christ will become my Ail in all ! Yes, even mine ! 

Tliis is the last entry in her journal for more than a year; 
lier letters, too, during the same period are very few. In 
August of 1S57, she was made glad by the birth of another 
son, her fifth child. Her own health was now much better 



IN THE SCIIOOI. OF SUFFERING. 159 

than it had been for a long time ; but that of her husband had 
become so enfeebled that in April, 1858, he resigned his pas- 
toral charge and by the advice of his physician determined to 
go abroad, with his family, for a couple of years ; the munificent 
kindness of his people having furnished him with the means 
of doing so. The tender sympathy and support which she 
gave him in this hour of extreme weakness and trial, more 
than everything else, after the blessing of Heaven, upheld his 
fainting spirits and helped to restore him at length to his 
chosen work. They set sail for the old world in the steam- 
ship Arago, Capt. Lines, June 26th, amidst a cloud of friendly 
wishes and benedictions. 



CHAPTER VI. 

IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. 

1858-1860. 

I. 

Life abroad. Letters about the Voyage and the Journey from Havre to Switzerland. 
Chateau d'Oex. Letters from there. The Chalet Rosat. The Free Church of th( 
Canton de Vaud. Pastor Panchaud. 

Mrs. Prentiss passed more than two years abroad, mostly 
in Switzerland. They were years burdened with heavy cares, 
with ill-health and keen solicitude concerning her husband. 
But they were also years hallowed by signal mercies of Provi- 
dence, bright every now and then with floods of real sun- 
shine, and sweetened by many domestic joys. Although 
quite secluded from the world a large portion of the time, her 
solitude was cheered by the constant arrival of letters from 
home. During these years also she was first initiated into 
full communion with Nature; and what exquisite pleasure she 
tasted in this new experience, her own pen will tell. Indeed, 
this period affords little of interest except that which blos- 
somed out of her domestic life, her friendships, and her love of 
nature. She travelled scarcely at all and caught only fugitive 
glimpses of society or of the treasures of European art. 

A few simple records, therefore, of her retired home-life 
and of the impressions made upon her by Alpine scenery, as 
contained in her letters, must form the principal pcfrt of this 
chapter. Her correspondence, while abroad, would make a 
large volume by itself ; in selecting from it what follows, the aim 
has been to present, as far as possible, a continuous picture of 
her European sojourn, drawn by herself. Were a faithful 
(160) 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. l6l 

picture of its quiet yet variea scenes to be drawn by another 
hand, it would include features wholly omitted by her; feat- 
ures radiant with a light and beauty not of earth. It would 
reflect a sweet patience, a heroic fortitude, a tender sympathy, 
a faith in God and an upholding, comforting influence, which 
in sharp exigencies the Christian wife and mother knows so 
well how to exercise, and which are inspired only by the Lord 
Jesus Himself. 

The friend to whom the following letter was addressed 
years ago passed away from earth. But her name is still en- 
shrined in many hearts. The story of her generous and affec- 
tionate kindness, as also that of her children, would fill a 
whole chapter. " You will never know how we have loved 
and honored you all, straight through^' wrote Mrs. Prentiss to 
one of them, many years later. 

How many times during our voyage we had occasion to 

think of and thank you and yours, a dozen sheets like 

amru7w. this would fail to tell you. Of all your kind arrange- 

Wooisey, j-pjents for our comfort not one failed of its object. 

Havre, ■' 

July II, Whether the chair or my sacque had most admirers I 
^ ^ ■ do not know, but I can't imagine how people ever get 
across the ocean without such consolations on the way. As to 
the grapes they kept perfectly to the last day and proved deli- 
cious ; the box then became a convenient receptacle for the chil- 
dren's toys ; while the cake-box has turned into a medicine- 
chest. We had not so pleasant a voyage as is usual at this 
season, it being cold and rainy and foggy much of the lime. 
However, none of us suffered much from sea-sickness — Mr. 
Prentiss not in the least ; his chief discomfort was from want 
of sleep. On the whole, we had a less dreary time than we an- 
ticipated, and perhaps the stupidity in which we were engulfed 
for two weeks was a wholesome refuge from the excitement of 
the month previous to our departure. We landed in a deluge 
of lain, and tVe only article in our possession that alarmed the 
officers of the Custom House was not the sewing-machine, 
which was hardly vouchsafed a look, but your cake-box. We 
were thankful to tumble pell-mell into a carriage, and soon to 
find ourselves in a comfortable room, before a blu/.ing fire. We 



,52 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

go round with a phrase-book and talk out of it, so if anybody 
ever asks vou what sort of people the Prentiss family are and 
what are our conversational powers, you may safely and vera- 
-^iouslv answer "They talk like a book." M. already asks the 
French names of almost everything and is very glad to knew 
that " we have got at Europe," and when asked how she likes 
France, declares, "Me likes thaC We go off to Paris in the 
morning. I will let Mr. Prentiss tell his own story. Meanwhile 
vk c send you everyone our warmest love and thanks. 

After a few days in Paris the family hastened to Chateau 
d'Oex, where New York friends awaited them. Chateau d'Oex 
is a mountain valley in the canton of Vaud, on the right bank 
of the Sarine, tw^enty-two miles east of Lausanne, and is one 
of the loveliest spots in Switzerland. Aside from its natural 
beauties, it has some historical interest. It was once the 
home of the Counts of Gruyere, and the ruins of their ancient 
chateau are still seen there. The Free church of the village 
was at this time under the care of Pastor Panchaud, a favorite 
pupil and friend of Vinet. He was a man of great simplicity 
and sweetness of character, an excellent preacher, and wholly 
devoted to his little flock. Mrs. Prentiss and her husband 
counted his society and ministrations a smile of Heaven upon 
their sojourn in Chateau d'Oex. 

Our ride from Havre to Paris was charming. We had one 

To Mrs ^^ those luxurious cars, to us unknown, which is in- 

llenry B. tended to hold only eight persons, but which has 

chatean room for ten ; the weather was perfect, and tne 

Jt^yts, scenery all the way very lovely and quite novel. A. 

'^58. and I kept mourning for you and M. to enjoy it with 

us, and both agreed that we would gladly see only half there 

was to see, and go half the distance we were going, if we could 

only share with you our pleasures of every kind. On reaching 

Paris and the hotel we found we could not get pleasant rooms 

below the fifth story. They were directly opposite the garden 

of theTuileries, where birds were flying and singing, and it was 

hard to realise that we were in the midst of that great city. 

We went sight-seeing very little. A. and I strolled about here 

and llicrc, did a little shopping, stared in at the shop windows 



IN RETREAT AMONG TTTE A IPS. 163 

'vished M. had this and you had that, and then strolled home 
and panted and toiled and groaned up our five flights, and wrote 
in our journals, or rested, or made believe study French. We 
went to the Jardin des Plantes in order to let the children see 
the Zoological Garden. We also drove through the Bois de 
Boulogne, and spent part of an evening in the garden of the 
Palais Royal, and watched the people drinking their tea and 
coffee, and having all sorts of good times. We found Paris far 
more beautiful than we expected, and certainly as to cleanli- 
ness it puts New York ages behind. We were four days in 
coming from Paris to this place. We went up the lake of 
Geneva on one of the finest days that could be asked for, and 
then the real joy of our journey began ; Paris and all its splen- 
dors faded away at once and forever before these mountains, 
and as George had never visited Geneva, or seen any of this 
scenery, my pleasure was doubled by his. Imagine, if you can, 
how we felt when Mt. Blanc appeared in sight ! We reached 
Vevay just after sunset, and were soon established in neat 
rooms of quite novel fashion. The floors were of unpainted 
white wood, checked off with black walnut ; the stairs were all 
of stone, the stove was of porcelain, and every article of fur- 
niture was odd. But we had not much time to spend in look- 
ing at things within doors, for the lake was in full view, and 
the mountain tops were roseate with the last rays of the set- 
ting sun, and the moon soon rose and added to the whole scene 
all it wanted to make us half believe ourselves in a pleasant 
dream. I often asked myself, " Can this be I ! " " And // it be 
I, as I hope it be " — 

Early next morning, which was dear little INI.'s birthday, we 
set off in grand style for Chateau d'Oex. W^e hired a mon- 
strous voiture which had seats inside for four, and on top, with 
squeezing, seats for three, besides the driver's seat ; had five 
black horses, and dashed forth in all our splendor, ten precious 
souls and all agog. I made a sandwich between Mr. S. and 
George on top, and the "bonnes " and children were packed in- 
side. This was our great day. The weather was indescribably 
beautiful ; we felt ourselves approaching a place of rest and a 
welcome home ; the scenery was magnificent, and already the 
mountain air was beginning to revive our exhausted souls and 
bodies. We sat all day hand in hand, literally 'Most in won- 



,64 THK TJFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

der." With all I had heard ever since I was born about these 
mountains, I had not the faintest idea of their real grandeur 
and beauty. We arrived here just after sunset, and soon found 
ourselves among our friends. Mrs. Buck brought us up to our 
new home, which we reached on foot (as our voiture could not 
ascend so high) by a little winding path, by the side of which 
a little brook kept running along to make music for us. It is a 
regular Swiss chalet, much like the little models you have seen, 
only of a darker brow^n, and on either side the mountains stand 
ranged, so that look where we will w^e are feasted to our ut- 
most capacity. 

We have four small, but very neat, pretty rooms. Our floors 
are of unpainted pine, as w^hite and clean as possible. The 
room in which we spend our time, and where I am now writing, 

I must fully set before you Our centre table has had a 

nice new red cover put on it to-day, with a vase of flowers ; it 
iK^lds all our books, and is the ornament of the room. In front 
of the sofa is a red rug on w^hich we say our prayers. Over it 
is a picture, and over G.'s table is another. Out of the window 
you see first a pretty little flower garden, then the valley dotted 
with brown chalets, then the background of mountains. Be- 
hind the house you go up a little winding path — and can go on 
forever without stopping if you choose — along the sides of which 
flowers such as we cultivate at home grow in profusion ; you 
can't help picking them and throwing them away to snatch a 
new handful. The brook takes its rise on this side, and runs 
musically along as you ascend. Yesterday we all went to 
church at nine and a half o'clock, and had our first experience 
of French preaching, and I was relieved to find myself under- 
standing whole sentences here and there. And now I need not, 
I suppose, wind up by sayirg w^e are in a charming spot. All 
we want, as far as this world goes, is health and strength with 
which to enjoy all this beauty and all this sw^eet retirement, 
and these, I trust, it will give us in time. Isabella "wears like 
gold." She is everything I hoped for, and from her there has 
not been even a tone of discomfort since we left. But my back 
aches and my paper is full. We all send heaps of love to you 
all and long to licar. 

August \Qth. — We breakfast at eight on bread and honey, Avhich 
\s the universal Swiss breakfast, dine at one, and have tea at seven 



IN RETREAT AMOXC. THE ALPS. 165 

r usually sew and read and study all the forenoon After din- 
ner we take our Alpen-stocks and go up behind the house — a 
bit of mountain-climbing which makes me realise that I am no 
longer a young girl. I get only so high, and then have to come 
back and lie down. George and Annie beat me all to pieces 
with their exploits. I do not believe we could have found any- 
where in the world a spot better adapted to our needs. How 
you would enjoy it ! I perfectly yearn to show you these 
mountains and all this green valley. The views I send will 
give you a very good idea of it, however. The smaller chillet 
in the print is ours. In a little summer house opposite Isa- 
bella now sits at work on the sewing-machine. My best love to 
all three of your dear "chicks," and to your husband if "he's 
willin'." 



We slipped off without any leave-taking, which I wab 
not sorry for. I did not want to bid you good-bye. 
We had to say it far too often as it was, and, when we 



To Mrs. 
//. B. 



Washburjj, fairlv Set sail we had not an emotion left, but sank at 

Chateait ' , . . . 

d'Oex, once into a state of entire exhaustion and stupidity. 
^^itSsS^^' • • • • We thought Paris very beautiful until we came 
in view of the Lake of Geneva, Mt. Blanc, and other 
handiworks of God, when straightway all its palaces and monu- 
ments and fountains faded into insignificance. I began to fee 
that it was wicked for a few of my friends, who were born to 
enjoy the land of lakes and mountains, not to be here enjoying 
it, and you were one of them, you may depend. However, 
whenever I have had any such pangs of regret in relation to 
you, I have consoled myself with the reflection that with your en- 
thusiastic temperament, artist eye, and love of nature, you never 
would survive even a glimpse of Switzerland ; the land of William 
Tell would be the death of you. When you are about eighty 
years old, luive cooled down about ten degrees below zero, have 
got a little dim about the eyes, and a little stiff about the knees 
it may possibly be safe for you to come and break yourself in 
gradually, I have not forgotten how you felt and what you 
did at the White Mountains, you see. 

Well, joking apart, we are in a spot that would just suit you 
in every respect. We are not in a street or a road or any of 
those abominations you like to shun, but our little chalet 



l66 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

nardly accessible save on foot, is just tucked down on the side 
of the gentle slope leading up the mountain. It is remote from 
all sights but those magnificent ones afforded b}' the range 
of mountains, the green rich valley, and the ever-varying sky 
and cloudland, and all sounds save that of a brook which runs 
hurrying down its rocky little channel and keeps us company 
when we want it. I ought, however, to add that my view of 
this particular valley is that of a novice. People say the scen- 
ery here is tame in comparison with what may be seen else- 
where ; but look which way I will, from front windows or back 
windows, at home or abroad, I am as one at a continual feast ; 
and what more can one ask ? Mr. Prentiss feels that this se- 
cluded spot is just the place for him, and as it is a good point 
from which to make excursions on foot or otherw^ise, he and 
Mr. Stearns have already made several trips and seen splendid 
sights. How much we have to be grateful for ! For my part, 
I would rather — far rather — have come here and stayed here 
blindfold, than not to have come with my dear husband. So 
all I have seen and am experiencing I regard as beauty and fe- 
licity thrown in. 

T wish we had 3^ou, my dear mother, here among these 

mountains, for the cool, bracing air would help to 

^AH^ai'i build you up. Both Mr. Stearns and George have 

Prentiss, comc back from Germany looking: better than when 

CJialeau , ^ ^ . . f t , i 

d'Oex, they started on their trip two weeks ago. It has been 
^\%k "^^O' cold ; the thermometer some mornings at eight 
o'clock standing at 46°, and the mountains being all 
covered with snow. We slept with a couple of bottles of hot 
water at our feet, and two blankets and a comforter of eider- 
down over us, after going to bed early to get warm. My sew- 
ing-machine is a great comfort, and the peasants enjoy coming 
down from the mountains to see it. Besides, I find something 
lo do on it every day. 

I often wish I could set you down in the midst of the church 
to which we go every Sunday, if only to show you how the peo- 
ple dress. A bonnet is hardly seen there ; everybody wearing 
a black silk cap or a bloomer, /wear a bloomer ; a brown one 
trimmed with brown ribbon. An old lady sits in front of me 
A^ho wears a white cap much after the fashion of yours, and on 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. l6 



top of that is perked a monstrous bloomer trimmed with black 
gauze ribbon. Her dress is linsey-woolsey, and for outside gar- 
ment she wears a black silk half-handkerchief, as do all the 
rest. No light dress or ribbon is seen. I must tell you now 
something that amused A. and me very much yesterday at 
dinner. A French gentleman, who married a Spanish lady four 
years ago, sits opposite us at the table, and he and his wife are 
quite fascinated w^ith M., watch all her motions, and whisper 
together about all she does. Yesterday they got to telling us 
that the lady had been married when only twelve years old to 
a gentleman of thirty-tw'O, had two children, and was a grand- 
mother, though not yet thirty-six years old. She said she car- 
ried her doll with her to her husband's house, and he made her 
learn a geography lesson every day till she was fourteen, when 
she had a baby of her own. I asked her if she loved her hus- 
band, and she said " Oh, yes," only he was very grave and 
scolded her and shut her up w^hen she wouldn't learn her les- 
sons. She said that her owm mother w^hen thirty-six years old 
had fourteen children, all of whom are now living, twelve of 
them boys, and that the laws of Spain allow the father of six 
sons to ask a favor for them of the King, but the father of 
twelve may ask a favor for each one ; so every one of her 
brothers had an office under the Government or was an officer 
in the army. I don't know when I have been more amused, for 
she, like all foreigners, was full of life and gesture, and show^ed 
us how she tore her hair and threw- down her books when angry 
with her husband. 

The children are all bright and w^ell. The first time we took 
the cars after landing, M. was greatly delighted. " Now w^e're 
going to see grandma," she cried. Mrs. Buck got up a pic- 
nic for her, and had a treat of raspberries and sponge-cake — 
frosted. The cake had " M." on the top in red letters. Baby 
is full of life and mischief. The day we landed he said " Papa," 
and now he says "Mamma." Isabella' is everything we could 
ask. She is trying to learn French, and A. hears her recite ev- 
ery night, George found some furnished rooms at Montrcux, 
which he has taken for six months from October, and we shall 
thus, be keeping house. A. has just rushed in and snatched her 
French Bible, as she is going to the evening service with some 

' A most faithful servant, to whom Mrs. P. was greatly attached. 



r68 THE LIFE OF MliS. I'REXTLSS. 

of the English family. You will soon hear all about us from 
Mr. Stearns. 

The following letter will show how little powder either hei 
own cares, or the charms of nature around her, had to quench 
her sympathy for friends in sorrow : 

We received your kind letter this morning. We had already 
To Miss A ^^^ ^^^ sympathies excited in behalf, of you all, by 
//. Wcoisey, seeing a notice of the death of the dear little child in 

Chateau , , -« ,r x-. i i 

D'Oex, Scpt.Sc paper lent to us by Mrs. Buck, and were most anx- 
". 1858. j^^g ^Q \).^2lX all the particulars you have been so good 
as to give us. This day, which fifteen years ago we marked 
with a white stone, and which we were to celebrate with all 
our hearts, has passed quite wearily and drearily. There is 
something indescribably sad in the details of the first bereave- 
ment which has fallen within the circle of those w^e \ov^ ; per- 
haps, too, old sorrows of our own clamored for a hearing ; and 
then, too, there was the conviction, " This is not all death will 
do while the ocean severs you from kindred and friends." We 
longed to speak to you many words of affectionate sympathy 
and Christian cheer ; but long before we can make them reach 
you, I trust you will have felt sure that you were at least re- 
membered and prayed for. It is a comfort that no ocean sepa- 
rates us from Him who has afflicted you. The loss to you each 
and all is very great, but to the mother of such a child it is 
beyond description. Faith alone can bear her through it, but 
faith can. What a wonderful little creature the sweet Ellie 
must have been ! We were greatly touched by your account 
of her singing that beautiful hymn. It must have been divinely 
ordered that she should leave such a precious legacy behind 
her. And though her loveliness makes her loss the greater, the 
loss of an unlovely wayward child would surely be a heavier 
grief. 

I never know where to stop when I begin to talk about the 
tleath of a little one ; but before I stop I want to ask you to 
t(.ll Mrs. li. one word from me, which will not surprise and 
will perhaps comfort her. It is this. Neither his father nor 
myself would be willing to have God now bereave us of the 
rich experience of seven years ago, when our noble little boy 
was taken away. We have often said this to each other,^and 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. i6q 

ottener said it to Him, who if He took, also gave much. But 
after all, we can not sajf much to comfort either Mrs. H. or you. 
We can only truly, heartily and always sympathise with you, 
.... Mr. Prentiss and Mr. Stearns have spent a fortnight in 
jaunting about ; beginning at Thun and ending at Munich. 
They both came home looking fresher and better than when 
they left, but Mr. P. is not at all well now, and will have his 

nps and downs, I suppose, for a long time to come We 

can step out at any moment into a beautiful path, and, turn 
which way we wall, meet something charming. Yesterday he 
came back for me, having found a new walk, and we took oui 
sticks, and went to enjoy it together till we got, as it were^ 
fairly locked in by the mountains, and could go no further. 
Only to think of having such things as gorges and water-falls 
and roaring brooks, right at your back door ! The seclusion of 
this whole region is, however, its great charm to us, and to tell 
the truth, the primitive simplicity of style of dress, etc., is 
quite as charming to me as its natural beauty. We took tea 
one night last week wath the pastor of the Free church ; he 
lives in a house for which lie pays thirty dollars a year, and we 
were quite touched and pleased with his style of living ; white 
pine walls and floors, unpainted, and everything else to match. 
We took our tea at a pine table, and the drawing-room to 
which we retired from it, w^as a corner of the same room, where 
was a little mite of a sofa and a few books, and a cheerful lamp 
burning. 

All this time I have not answered your question about the 
Fourth of July. We had great doings, I assure you. Mr. P. 
made a speech, and ran up and down the saloon like a war 
horse. He was so excited and pale that I did not enjoy it 
much, thinking any instant he would faint and fall. Mr. 
Cleaveland was the orator of the day and acquitted himself 
very well, they all said. I was in my berth at the time of its 
delivery, saving myself for the dinner and toasts, and so did 
not hear it. The whole affair is to be printed. There was a 
great cry of "Prentiss! Prentiss!" after the "Captain's din- 
ner," and at last the poor man had to respond in a sh'irl 
speech to a toast to the ladies. I suppose you know that he 
considers all women as angels. Mr. Stearns left us on Thursday 
to set his face homewards. 



I/O THE LIFE OF MFlS. PRENTISS. 



II. 



Montreux. The Swiss Autumn. Castle of Chillon. Death and Sorrow of Friends at 
Home. Twilight Talks, Spring Flowers. 

Early in October the family removed to Montreux, at the 
upper end of the lake of Geneva, where the next six months 
were passed in what was then known as the Maison des Bains. 
Montreux was at this time the centre of a group of pleasant 
villages, scattered along the shore of the lake, or lying back 
of it among the hills. One of these villages, Clarens, was 
rendered famous in the last century by the pen of Rousseau, 
and early in this by the pen of Byron. The grave of Vinet, 
the noble leader and theologian of the Free Church of the 
canton of Vaud, now renders the spot sacred to the Chris- 
tian scholar. Montreux was then a favorite resort of invalids 
in quest of a milder climate. At many points it commands 
fine views of the lake, and the whole region abounds in pic- 
turesque scenery. The Maison des Bains is said to have long 
since disappeared; but in 1858, it seemed to hang upon the 
side of the Montreux hill and was one of the most noticeable 
features of the landscape, as seen from the passing steamer. 

Your letter was a real comfort and I am so thankful to the 

To Mrs "^^^ \.\^2X invented letter-writing that I don't know 

Henry B. what to do. We feast on evervthinor we hear from 

Montreux, nome, however sick, or weak ; it is a sort of sea-air 

^'^'^vZi^' appetite. Your letters are not a thousandth part long 

enough, but if you wrote all the time I suppose they 

wouldn't be You see I am experimenting with two kinds 

of ink, hoping my letters may be more easy to read. George 
tried it the other day by writing me a little note, telling me 
first how he loved me in black ink and then how he loved me 
in blue, after which he tore it up ; wasn't that a shame ? Anna 
writes that you seemed miserable the day she was at your 
house. The fact is, people of such restless mental activity as 
you and I, my dear, never need expect to be well long at a time 
—for, as soon as we get a little health we consume it just as 
children do candy. George and I are both able, however, tc 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. l/l 

take long walks, and the other day we went to see the castle ol 
Chillon. I was much impressed with all I saw. Under Byron's 
name, which I saw on one of the columns, there were the ini- 
tials " H. B. S."— " H. B. Smith," says I. " You don't say so ! " 
cries George, " where ? let me see — oh, I don't think it can be 
his, for here are some more letters," which I knew all the time, 
but for all that H. B. S. does stand for H. B. Smith. There are 
ever so many charming walks about here and from some points 
the scenery is wonderfully picturesque. I ne\er was in the 
country so late as to see the trees after a frost, and although 
the foliage here is less brilliant, it is said, than that of Ameri- 
can forests, I find it hard to believe that there can be anything 
more beautiful than the wooded mountains covered with the 
softest tints of every shade and coloring interspersed with 
snowcapped peaks and bare, gray rocks. The glory has de- 
parted somewhat within two days, as we have had a little 
snow-storm, and the leaves have fallen sadly. We began to 
have a fire yesterday and to put on some of our winter cloth- 
ing ; yet roses bloom just outside our door, and mignonette, 
nasturtiums, and a variety of other flowers adorn every house. 
The Swiss love for flowers is really beautiful. I wish you would 
let the children go to the hot-house which they pass on the way 
from school and get me some flower-seeds, as it will be pleas- 
ant to me to have the means of giving pleasure. I presume 
the gardener would be able to select a dozen or so of American 
varieties which would be a treasure here. I amuse myself with 
making flower-pictures, with which to enliven our parlor, and 
assure you that these works of art are remarkable specimens 
of genius. I do not know where the time goes, but I do not 
have half enough of it, or else do not understand the art of 
making the most of it. We have just subscribed to a library 

at a franc a month, and hope to read a little French I 

suppose Z. will be a regular young lady by the time we come 
home, and that I shall be afraid of her, as I am of all you no; 
ladies. How nicely she and M. would look in the jaunty little 
hats they all wear here. I wonder if the fashion will stretch 
across the ocean ? I dare say it will. Never was there any- 
thing so becoming in the world. 

We were glad to hear from yov/r last letter that you are all 



1^2 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

To Mrs ^^ ^^^^^' ^"^ especially to hear such good accounts ol 
Stearns, Mr. Stearns. It is a real comfort to us to find that his 
^Xov.^C little trip has done him so much good. I was sorry 
'^58- to hear of the loss of that friend of the Thurstons in 
the Austria, for I heard Ellen speak of her in the most raptur 
ous manner. This world is full of mysteries. Only to think 
of the shock George received when expecting to meet Mr. 
Butler in Paris and perhaps spend several weeks with him 
there, he heard at Geneva the news of his sudden death ! ' He 
loved and honored Mr. B. most warmly and truly. You will 
remember that the latter came abroad on account of the health 
of his daughter ; her younger sister accompanied them, and 
they were all full of the brightest anticipations. But the same 
steamer which brought them over, carried home his remains 
on the next trip, and those two poor young girls are left in a 
strange land, afflicted and disappointed and alone. Mr. Butler 
died a most peaceful and happy death, and George was very 
glad to be in Paris in time to comfort the young ladies, who 
were perfectly delighted to see him. He got back yester- 
day very much exhausted and has spent most of the day on 
the sofa. A. has a teacher who comes three times a week from 
Vevay, and spends most of the day. She is a young lady of 
about twenty-five, well educated and accustomed to teaching, 
and has taken hold of x\. with no little energy. She can not 
speak a word of English. Tell your A. we can't get over it 
that the horses, dogs and cats here all understand French. I 
have been ever so busy fixing and fussing for winter, which 
has come upon us all in a rush. Isabella has been bewitched 
for about a week, having got at last a letter from her beau, and 
every speck of work she has done on the sewing machine was 
either wrongside out or upside down. While George was 
gone I made up a lot of flower-pictures to adorn the walls 
of our parlor; he is walking about admiring them, and I wish 
you would drop in and help him. He had a real homesick fit 
to see you all to-day, feeling so tired after his journey ; but 

' The Hon. Benjamin F. Butler, of New York, was one of the most honored members 
of the Mercer street church. He was known throug:hout the counti7 as an eminent 
lawyer and patriotic citizen. In the circle of his friends he was admired and beloved for 
his singular purity of cliaracter, liis scholarly tastes, the kindness of his heart, and all the 
other fine qualities that gn to form the Christian g-entleman. During a portion of Pres- 
ident Jackson's administration Mr. Butler was Attorney-General of the United States. 
He died in the srxty-third year of hia age. 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. 



173 



seems brighter to-night, and promises faithfully to get well 
now, right off. 

Dec. ^th. — The death of Sarah P. must have excited all 
your sympathies. The loss of a little child— and I shudder 
when I recall the pangs of such a loss ! — can be nothing in com- 
parison with such an affliction as this. I well remember what 
a bright young thing she was. Her poor mother's grief and 
amazement must be all the greater for the fact of the perfect 
vigor and sound health which had, as it were, assured her of 
long life and happiness and usefulness. I had an inexpressible 
sadness upon me as soon as I heard that she was dangerously 
ill ; often in such moments one bitterly realises that all this 
world's idols are likewise perishable. 

A.'s teacher gives lessons also in a family half an hour from 
Vevay, who are going to Germany to spend a year, and she 
gave such an account of the place, that George let her per- 
suade him into going to see it, as the owner desired to rent il 
during his absence. He took A. with him, as I could not go. 
They came back in ecstasies, and have both set their hearts so 
on taking it that I should not at all wonder if that should be 
the end. We left some of our things at Chateau d'Oex, fully 
expecting to return there, but this Vevay country seat with its 
cherry, apple and pear trees, its seclusion, its vicinity to read- 
ing-room and library, has quite disgusted George with the idea 
of spending another summer "en pension." The family en- 
tertained G. and A. very hospitably, gave them a lunch of 
bologna sausage, bread and butter, cake, wine and grapes, and 
above all, the little girls gave A. two little Guinea pigs, which 
you may imagine filled her with delight. The whole affair was 
very agreeable to her, as she had not spoken to a child (save 
M.) since we came to Montreux. 

January 3^, 1859. — We read your letter, written at Bedford, 
with no little interest and sympathy. While we could not but 
rejoice that one more saint had got safely and without a strug- 
gle home, we felt the exceeding disappointment you must have 
had in losing the last smile you came so near receiving.' I 
think you had a sort of presentiment last winter what this one 
might bf'ng forth, for I remember your saying it would prob- 

' Referring to the death uf Dr. Stearns' motlier, Mrs. Abigail Stearns, of Bedford 
Mass. 



174 THE LIFE OF MRS. niENTISS. 

ably be the last visit to you, and that you wanted to make it as 
pleasant as possible. And pleasant I do not doubt you and the 
whole household made it to her. Still there always will be re- 
grets and vain wishes after the death of one we love. What a 
pity that we can not be to our friends while they live all we 
wish we had been after they have gone ! George and I feel an 
almost childish clinging to mother, while we hope and believe 
she will live to bless us if we ever return home. 

Jan. 2^d. — We have been afflicted in the sudden death of our 
dear friend, Mrs. Wainwright. The news came upon us with- 
out preparation — for she was ill only a few days — and was a 
great shock to us. You and mother know what she was to us 
during the whole time of our acquaintance with her ; I loved 
her most heartily. I can not get over the saddening impression 
which such deaths cause, by receiving new ones ; our lives 
here are so quiet and uneventful, that we have full leisure to 
meditate on the breaches already made in our circle of friends 
at home, and to forebode many more such sorrowful tidings. 
Mrs. Wainwright was like a mother to me, and I am too old to 
take up a new friend in her place. ^ 

I do not know whether I mentioned the afflictions of my 
cousin H. They have been very great, and have excited my 
sympathies keenly. Her first child died when eighteen months 
old, after a feeble, suffering life. Then the second child, an 
amiable, loving creature — I almost see her now sitting up so 
straight with her morsel of knitting in her hands ! — she was 
taken sick and died in five days. Her sister, about eight years 
old, came near dying of grief ; she neither played, ate or slept, 
and llicy wrote me that her wails of anguish were beyond de- 
scription. Just as she was getting a little over the first shock, 
the little boy, then about three years old, died suddenly of 
croup. Poor H. is almost broken-hearted. I have felt dread- 
fully at bcinn^ away when she was so afflicted ; they had not 
been long enough in New York to have a minister of their own, 
and they all said, oh, if George and I had only been there ! 

Her IctttTs duriuL^ the rest of the winter are tinged with 
the sadness caused by these and other distressing afflictions 

' Mrs. Wainwrifjht and her husband, the late Eli Wainwright, were members of the 
old Mercer street Presbyterian church, and both of them unweaiied in their kindness tc 
Mrs. Prentiss jnd her husband. 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. 175 

among friends at home. Her sympathies were kept under a 
constant strain. But her letters contain also many gleams of 
sunshine. Although very quiet and secluded, and ofteM 
troubled by torturing neuralgic pains, as well as by sudden 
shocks of grief, her life at Montreux was not without its c\v\i 
peculiar joys. One of the greatest of these was to while. 
away the twilight or evening hours in long talks with her hus^ 
band about home cUid former days. Distance, together with 
the strange Alpine scenes about her, seemed to have the 
effect of a score of years in separating her from the past, and 
throwing over it a mystic veil of tenderness and grace. Old 
times and old friends, when thus viewed from the beautiful 
shores of Lake Leman, appeared to the memory in a softened 
light and invested with something of that ideal loveliness 
which the grave itself imparts to the objects of our affections. 
Many of these old friends, indeed, had passed through the 
grave — some, long before, some recently — and to talk of them 
was sweet talk about the blessed home above, as well as the 
home beyond the ocean. 

Another joy that helped to relieve the monotony and 
weariness of the Montreux life, was in her children; especially 
as, on the approach of spring, she wandered with them over 
the hill-sides in quest of flowers ; then her delight knew no 
bounds. In a letter to Mrs. Washburn, dated March 19, she 
writes : 

M, and G. catch A.'s and my enthusiasm, and come with their 
little hands full of dandelions, buttercups and daisies, and their 
hats full of primroses. Even Mr. Prentiss comes in with his 
hands full of crocuses, purple and white, and lots of an ex- 
tremely pretty flower, "la fille avant la mere," which he gathers 

on the mountains where I can not climb I often think of 

you and Mrs. B , when I revel among the beautiful profu- 
sion of flowers with which this country is adorned. So early 
as it is, the hills and fields are covered \\\\.\i primroses, daisies, 
cowslips, violets, lilies, and I don't know what not ; in five 
minutes we can gather a basketful. 



176 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

III. 

Scarlet-fever among the Children. Doctor Curchod. Letters. 

AT the end of March the family removed to the campagne 
Genevrier, about two miles back of Vevay, in the di^rect.on of 
St Le^cr At one point it overlooked the town and the lake, 
and commanded a fine view of the mountains of Savoy arid of 
the distant Jura range. On the opposite shore of the lake is 
the village where Lord Byron passed some time in 1816, and 
where he is said to have written the wonderful description o 
a thuncler-storm.'in th? third canto of Childe Harold. At all 
exents the very scene, so vividly dC?i?ted by him, was witnessed 
from Genevrier.' '-« 

,r , , -I-- I- -1 nrty went off, fol- 

Your letter describing^ how nicely your pa*-, ^ ^ 

r AT . \ ^' ■ "'^ here m our 

^ ,, , lowed us from Montreux, to enliven uv, , 
Jo Mrs. ^ ' ^een there. 

atearm, new home. We only wish we could have t> ' 

Genevrier, ,^ ^ , , • j r • • ^Viany de- 

Apriis, You need not have apologised for giving so "l.^., ,.. 

'^59' tails, for it is just such little events of your da^ / 

that we want to hear about. My mouth quite waters for , 

of the cake they sent you ; I remember Mrs. Dr. J. and otx^ 

used to send us big loaves which were delicious, and si 

as I never tasted out of Newark. We came here last Thursd;^ f 

f^ri 
in a great snow-storm, which was cheerless and cold enoug' 

after the warm weather we had had for so many weeks. I dc\, 

not suppose more snow fell on any day through the winter, and\ 

we all shivered and lamented and huddled over the fire at a 

great rate. Yet I have just been driven in-doors by the heat 

of the sun, having begun to write at a little table just outside 

the house, and fires and snow have disappeared. George has 

gone to town with Jules in the wagon to buy sugar, oil, oats, 

buttons, and I do not know what not, and is no doubt thinking 

1 " Far along, 
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among, 

Leaps the live thunder ! Not from one lone cloud, 
But evcr>' mountain now hath found a tongue. 
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud, 
Back to tlie joyous Alps, which call to her aloud I " 



IN RKTREx\T AMONG THE ALPS. 



"^n 



le's 



of you all ; for we do nothing but cry out how we wish you 
were here with us to enjoy this beautiful spot. We are entire- 
ly surrounded by mountains in the distance, and with green 
fields, vineyards, and cultivated grounds nearer home. How 
your children would delight in the flowers, the white dove 
the seven little tiny guinea pigs, no bigger than your Ann 
hand shut up, and the ample, neat play-places all about us. I 
can't tell you how George and I enjoy seeing M. trotting about, 
so eager and so happy, and gathering up, as we hope, health 
and strength every hour ! We find the house, on the whole, 
very convenient, and it is certainly as pleasant as can be ; every 
room cheerful and every window commanding a view which is 
ravishing. 

You will be surprised, I dare say, to hear that I am writing 
To Mrs. ^^^ °^ doors ; I can hardly, myself, believe that it is 
Smii/i, possible to do so with comfort and safety at this sea- 

Genevricr, , •' 

April 7, son, but it is perfectly charming weather, neither cold 
^ ^^' or hot, and with a small shawl and my bloomer on, I 
am out a large part of the day. You would fly here in a bal- 
loon if you knew what a beautiful spot we are in. We are sur- 
rounded with magnificent views of both the lake and the 
mountains, and can not turn in any direction without being 
ravished. The house is pretty, and in most respects well and 
even handsomely furnished ; damask curtains, a Titian, a Rem- 
brandt, and a Murillo in the parlor ; the floors are waxed and 
caipetless, to be sure, but Mrs. Buck has given us lots of large 
pieces of carpeting such as are used in this country to cover 
the middle of the rooms, and these will make us comfortable 
next winter. But the winters here are so short that one hardly 
gets fixed to meet them, when they are over. 

Wc have quite a nice garden, from which we have already 
eaten lettuce, spinach, and parsley ; our potatoes were planted 
a day or two ago, and our peas are just up. One corner of tlie 
house, unconnected with our part, is occupied by a farmer who 
rents part of the land ; he is obliged to do our marketing, etc., 
and we get milk and cream from him. I wish the latter was as 
easy to digest as it is palatable and cheap. They beat it up 
here till it looks like pure white lather and eat it with sugar. 
The grounds about our house are very neat and wc shall have 

12 



lyS THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

oceans of flowers of all sorts ; several kinds are in full bloom 
now. The wild flowers are so profuse, so beautiful and so vari- 
ous that A. and I are almost demented on the subject. From 
the windows I see first the wide, gravelled walk which runs 
round the house ; then a little bit of a green lawn in which 
there is a little bit of a pond and a tiny jef d'cau which falls 
agreeabl)^ on the ear ; beyond this the land slopes gently up- 
ward till it is not land but bare, rugged mountain, here and 
there sprinkled with snow and interspersed with pine-trees. 
The sloping land is ploughed up and men and women are busy 
sowing and plafiting ; too far off to disturb us with noise, but 
looking, the women at least, rather picturesque in their short 
blue dresses and straw hats. On the right hand the Dent du 
Midi is seen to great advantage ; it is now covered with snow 
The little village of St. Leger lies off in the distance ; you can 
just see its roofs and the quaint spire of a very old church ; 
Otherwise you see next to no houses, and the stillness is very 
sweet. N(rd) won't you come? The children seem to enjoy 
their liberty greatly, and are running about all the time. They 
have each a little garden and I hope will live out of doors all 
summer. 

The state of her health during the next three months was 
a source of constant and severe suffering, but could not quench 
her joy in the wonders of nature around her. '' My drives 
about this lovely place,*' she wrote in June, ''have begun to 
give me an immense amount of pleasure ; indeed, my faculty 
for enjoyment is so great, that I sometimes think one day's 
felicity pays for weeks of misery, and that if it hadn't been for 
my poor health, I should have been too happy here." Nor did 
her suffering weaken in the least her sympathy with the 
troubles of her friends at home. While for the most part si- 
lent as to her own peculiar trials, her letters were full of cheer- 
ing words about theirs. To one of these she wrote at this 
time : 

God has taken care that we should not enjoy so much of 
this world's comfort since we left home as to rest in it. Your 
letters are so sad, that I have fancied you perhaps overesti- 
mated our situation, feeling that you and your feeble husband 



IX RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. 



79 



were bearing the burden and heat of the day while we were 

standing idle. My dear , there are trials everywhere and 

in every sphere, and every heart knoweth its own bitterness, or 
else physical burdens are sent to take the place of mental de- 
pression. After all, it will not need more than an hour in heaven 
to make us ashamed of our want of faith and courage here on 
earth. Do cheer up, dear child, and "look aloft ! " Poor Mr. 

' ! I know his work is hard and up the hill, but it will not 

hv. lost work and can not last forever. It seem.s to me God 
might accept with special favor the services of those who ''toil 
in rowing." After all, it is not the amount of work He regards. 
but the spirit with which it is done. 

Early in July she was made glad by the birth of her sixth 
child— her ''Swiss boy," as she liked to call him. Her glad- 
ness was not a little increased by a visit soon after from Pro- 
fessor Henry B. Smith, of the Union Theological Seminary. 
This visit was one of the memorable events of her h'fe abroad. 
Professor Smith was not merely a great theologian and 
scholar; he was also a man of most attractive personal quali- 
ties. And, when unbending among friends from his exacting 
literary labors, the charm of liTs presence and conversation was 
perfect. His spirits ran high, and he entered with equal zest 
into the amusements of young or old. His laugh was as 
merry as that of the merriest girl ; no boy took part more 
eagerly in any innocent sport ; nobody could beat him in climb- 
ing a mountain. He was a keen observer, and his humor — 
sometimes very dry, sometimes fresh and bright as the early 
dew — rendered his companionship at once delightful and in- 
structive. His learning and culture were so much a part of 
himself, that his most familiar talk abounded in the happiest 
touches about books and art and life. All his finest traits 
were in full play while he was at Genevrier, and, when he left, 
his visit seemed like a pleasant dream. 

I am only too glad of the chance your husband gives mc to 

write you another bit of a note. We are enjoying his 

Smitii, visit amazingly. There are only two drawbacks to its 

^uiy'^-7/i ^^^i^^'ty ; ^^i^e is that he won't stay all summer and the 

ot.hei that you are not here. The children were en- 



l80 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

chanted with the presents he brought them. When I shall be 
on my feet and well and strong again time only can tell. A. 
lias delated herself lo me in the sweetest way. What she has 
been to me all winter and up to this time, tongue could not tell. 
My doctor is as kind as a brother. He was a perfect stranger 
to me, and was brought to my bedside when I was writhing in 
agony ; but in ten minutes his tenderness and sympathy made 
me forget that he was a stranger, and, through that long night 
of distress and the long day that followed, he did every thing 
that mortal could do to relieve and comfort me. He brought 
his wife up tc see me the other day, and I begged her to tell 
him how grateful I felt. "He is kind," she answered, "but 
then he loves you sol" (They both speak English.) I am so 
puffed up by his praises ! I am sure I thought I groaned, but 
he says "pas une gemissemcnt." 

August i^ih. — Our two husbands have gone to Lausanne for 
the day, taking A. with them. They seem to be having real 
nice times together, and if, as your husband says, "his old wife 
were here," his felicity and ours would be too great. They 
lounge about, talk, drink soda-water, and view" the prospect. 
Dr. Buck came up from Geneva on Thursday and spent the 
night and part of Friday with us, and it would have done you 
good to hear him and your husband laugh. He was quite en- 
chanted with the place, and says w^e never shall want to go 
home. August 2yl. — Your husband has given me leave to write 
you a little bit of a note out of my little bit of a heart on this 
little bit of paper. He and A. have just gone off to get some 
pretty grass for you. He will tell you when he gets home how 
he baptized his namesake on Sunday. We have enjoyed his 
visit more than tongue can tell. George says he has enjoyed 
it as much as he thought he should, and I am sure I have en- 
joyed it a great deal more, as I have been so much better in 
health than I expected. But how you must miss him ! 

On the 1 2th of September — a faultless autumn day — she 
set out with her husband and eldest daughter for Chamouni. 
It was licr first excursion for pleasure since coming to Switzer- 
land. A visit to this great and marvelous handiwork of God 
is an e\ent in the dullest life. In her case the experience was 
io full of delight, that it sceiued almost to compensate for the 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. l8l 

cares and disappointments of the whole previous year. The 
plan was to return to Genevrier and then pass on to the Ber- 
nese Oberland, but the visit to Chamouni proved to be hei 
last as well as her first jjleasure excursion in Switzerland. 

I have been so absorbed with anxiety about the children 
since we got back from our journey, that I have not 
stani ^^^^ ^^^^ writing you a description of it. George told 
Gnievrier, you, I suppose, that the news awaiting us when we 
1859. ' reached Vevay was of the baby's having whooping- 
cough. It was a great shock to us, for the weather 
was dismally cold, and it did not seem as if the little thing 
could get safely through the disease at so unfavorable a time 
of year. Then there were the other two to have it also. On 
Friday last baby's cry had become a sad sort of wail, and he 
was so pale and weak, that I did not see how he was going to 
rally ; but he is better to-day, so that I begin to take breath. 
. . . . To go back to Chamouni, it seems a mercy that we went 
when we did. We enjoyed the whole trip. We made the ex 
cursion to the Mer de Glace in a pouring rain, without injury 
to any of us, and were well repaid for our trouble by the nov- 
elty of the whole expedition and the extraordinary sights we 
saw. George intended taking us to the Oberland if we found 
the children well on our return, but all hope of accomplishing 
another journey was destroyed when we found what different 
business was before us. It is a real disappointment, for the 
weather is now mild and very fine, just adapted to journeying, 
and so many things have conspired to confine me to this spot, 
that I have found it quite hard to be as patient and cheerful as 
I am sure I ought to be. Alas and alas ! what an insatiable 
thing human nature is ! How it craves every thing the world 
can offer, instead of contenting itself with what ought to con- 
tent it. However, I shall soon get over my fidgets, and as l( 
George, of course he is only disappointed for me and A., as he 
has visited the Oberland, and was only going to give us pleas- 
ure. And, if I must choose between the two, I'd rather have 
the littlest baby in the world than see all the biggest mountains 
in it. We are thankful to hear that mother still continues tc 
be so well. We long to see her, and I think a look at her or a 
smile from her would do George good like a medicine. 



1 82 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

October i-jth.—l went to church yesterday for the first time 
m ten months; we came out at half-past t^n, so you see we 
have a tolerably long day before us when church is done. It is 
not at all like going to church at home ; you not only find it 
painful to listen with such strict attention as the foreign tongue 
requires, but you miss the neat, well-ordered sanctuary, the 
picture of family life (for there are no little children present !) 
and the agreeable array of dress. The flapping, monstrous 
bloomers tire your eyes, and so do the grotesque, coarse clothes 
and the tokens of extreme poverty. I grow more and more 
patriotic every day, and am astonished at what I see and hear 
of life in Europe. 

I snatched one afternoon when the baby was better than 
usual to go to Villeneuve with George to call on Mr. and Mrs. 
H. and the sister of Mrs. H., who is one of our Mercer street 
young ladies. They were at the Hotel Byron, where you 
stayed. What a beautiful spot it is ! Mr. H. afterwards came 
and dined with us, and was so charmed with the place that he 
was tempted to take it when we leave ; his wife, however, had set 
her heart on going home at that time, as she had left one child 
there. The vintage is going on here at Genevrier to-day, and 
we are all invited to go and eat our fill. 

You ask how I find time to make flow^er-pictures. Why, I 

have been confined to the house a good deal by the 

Henry B. baby's sickness, and could hardly set myself about any- 

GmevHer, thing else when I was not v.^atching and worrying 

Oc/ 20, ' about him. When we got home from Chamouni we 
1859. ^ • J- 

found him with what proved to be a very serious dis- 
ease in the case of so young a child. It has shaken his litt!e 
frame nearly to pieces, leaving him after weeks of suffering not 
much bigger than a doll, and all eyes and bones. It v.'as a 
pretty hard struggle for life, and I hardly know how he has 
weathered the storm. The idea of leaving our dear little Sw4ss 
baby in a little Swiss grave, instead of taking him home with 
us, was very distressing to me, and I can not help earnestly de- 
siring that death may not assail us in this foreign land. 

Our trip to Chamouni was very pleasant and did me a deal 
of good. If I could have kept on the mule-riding and moua- 
tain-viewing a few weeks I should have got quite built ap, b-jl 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. 183 

the children's coughs made it impossible to take any moie 
journeys. Mr. de Palezieux, our landlord, called Monday to see 
if I would sell him my sewing-machine, as his wife was crazy 
to have one, and didn't feel as if she could wait to get one from 
New York. I told him I would, and all night could not sleep 
for teaching him how to use it — for his wife is in Germany and 
he had to learn for her. I invited him to come to dinner on 
Wednesday and take his kssoms. On Tuesday George said hj 
wanted me to make a pair of sleeves for Mrs. Tholuck before 
the machine went off, so I went to town to get the stuff, at 
three o'clock began the sleeves and worked like a lion for a lit- 
tle over two hours, when they were done, beautifully. This 
morning I made four collars, which I shall want for Christmas 
presents, and a shirt for Jules (our old hired man), who 
never had one made of linen, and will go off the handle when 
he gets it. So I am tolerably used up, and shall be almost glad 
to send away the tempter to-morrow, though I dare say I shall 
miss it. I wish you could look out of my window this minute, 
and see how beautiful the autumnal foliage is already begin- 
ning to look. But my poor old head, what shall I do with it ! 
You ask about my health ; I am as well as I can be without 
sleep. I have had only one really good night since the baby 
came, to say nothing of those before ; some worse than others, 
to be sure ; but all wakeful to a degree that tries my faith not 
a little. I don't see what is to hinder my going crazy one of 
these days. However, I won't if I can help it. George goes 
to Germany this week. Well, my dear, good-bye. 

George got home a fortnight ago, after his three weeks' ab- 
sence, looking nicely, and more like himself than I have 

To Mrs. ' ^, . -.^,, c \- 

Stearns, Seen him m a long time. He had a most refreshmg 
Dec. x^th. ^.^^ .^ Germany among his old friends. It does my 
ncart good to see him so cheery and hopeful. I have just seen the 
three babies safely in bed, after no little scampering and carry- 
ing-on. and now am ready for a little chat with you and dear 
mother. George sits by me, piously reading " Adam Bede." 1 
was disappointed in the " Minister's Wooing," which he brought 
from Germany, and can not think Mrs. Stowe came up to her 
self this time, whatever the newspapers may say about it : and 
as for the plot, I don't see why she couldn't have let Mary 



f84 inF- I.IFK OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

many good old Dr. Hopkins, wlio was vastly more of a man 
than that harum-scarum James. As to "Adam Bede," I tliink 
it a wonderful book, beyond praise. I hope these literary ob- 
servations will be blessed to you, my dear. Mrs. Tholuck sent 
me a very pretty worsted cape to wear about house, or under a 
cloak. We went to Lausanne last Wednesday (George, A. and 
I) to do a little shopping for Christmas, and had quite a good 
time, only as life is always mingled in sweet and bitter, bittei 
and sweet, we had the melancholy experience of finding, when 
we got ready to come home, that Jules had taken a drop too 
much, and was in a state of ineffable silliness, which made 
George prefer to drive himself. 

We begin now to think and talk about Paris. We have 
been buying this afternoon some Swiss chalets and other 
things, brought to the door by two women, and I had hard 
work to keep George from taking a bushel or two. He got 
leaf-cutters enough to stab all his friends to the heart. Most 
of our lady friends will receive a salad-spoon and fork from 
one or the other of us. In fact, I have no doubt we shall be 
seized at the Custom-house as merchants in disguise. Well, I 
must bid you good night. 

The latter part of December her husband was requested 
to go to Paris and take the temporary charge of the American 
chapel there, lie decided to do so, with the understanding 
that she and the children sliould soon follow him. But 
scarcely had he left Geneva, when first one and then another 
of the children was seized with scarlet fever. Here arc a few 
extracts from her letters on the subject: 

Dec. 3i.s7. — Jules had hardly gone to the otlice, when I became 
satisfied that G. had scarlet fever beyond a doubt, and there- 
fore sent Jeanette instantly to town to tell the doctor so, and to 
ask him to come up. He came, and said at once I was quite 

right As to our leaving here, he said decidedly that it 

ciuIJ not be under less than forty days. I can not tell you, my 
darling, how grieved I am for you to hear this news. Now I 
'<now your first impulse will be to come home, and perhaps to 
renounce the chaplaincy, but I beg you to think twice — thrice 
Oefoie you decide to do so IL)w one thino- hurries c:r 



IN lU-TIil'AT A^[OX0 TIIK ALPS. jSt, 

after another ! Rut it is the universal cry, everywhere ; every- 
body is groaning and travailing in pain together; and we 
shall doubtless learn, in eternity, that our lot was not peculiar, 
but that we had millions of unknown fellow-sufferers on the 
way. Don't be too disappointed, but let us rather be thankful, 
that if our poor children must be sick, it was here and not in 
F\aris, and now, good night. Betake yourself to your knees, 
when you have read this, and pray for us with all your might. 

/a/L 5, iS6o.— The doctor has been here and says the other 
children must not meet G. till the end of this month, unless 
they are taken sick meantime. Poor M. melted like a snow- 
flake in the lire, when she heard that ; she begins to miss her 
little playmate, and keeps running to say things to him through 
the key-hole, and to serenade him with singing, accompanied 
with a rattling of knives. I see but one thing to be done ; for 
you to stay and preach and me to stay and nurse, each in the 

place God has assigned us You must pray for me, that 

I may be patient and willing to have my coming to Europe 
turn out a failure as far as my special enjoyment of it is con- 
cerned. There are better things than going to Paris, being 
with you and hearing you preach ; pray that I may have them 
in full measure. I can't bear to stop writing— good-bye, my 
dearest love ! 

/a/L 15///. — If you could look in upon us this evening, you 
would be not a little surprised to see me writing in the corner 
of my room, close to the wash-stand where my lamp is j^laced ; 
but you would see at a glance that the curtain of the bed is let 
down to shade our darling little M.'s eyes, as she lies close at 
my side. How sorry I am, as you can not see all this, to have to 
tell it to you ! I have let her decide for me, and she wants dear 
papa to know that she is sick. Oh, why need I add another 
care to those you already suffer on our account ! .... As to 
baby, we are disposed to think that /ic has had the fcrcr. Of 
course we do not know, but it is pleasant to hope the best. 

And now, my precious darling, you see there is more 

praying work to do, as I hinted in my Saturday's note when 
my heart was pretty heavy within me. I need not tell yow 
what to ask for the dear child ; but for me do pray that I may 
have no will of my owm. All these trials and disappointments 
are so purely Providential that it frightens me to think I may 



J ^5 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

have much secret discontent about them, or may like to plan 
for mvself in wavs different from God's plans. Yet in the 
nudst^of so much care and fatigue I hardly know how I do 
feel • I am like a feather blown here and there by an unex- 
pected whirlwind and I suppose I ought not to expect much of 
myself "Though He slay me yet will I trust m Him, I keep 
saving over and over to myself, and if you are going to write a 
new sermon this week, suppose you take that for your text. 1 
have not had one regret that you went to Paris, and as to your 
coming on, I do hope you will not think of it, unless you are 
sent for You could do nothing and would be very lonely and 
uncomfortable. The doctor told me to tell you to stay where 
you were, and that you ought to rejoice that the children are 
not sick in Paris. I do trust that in the end we shall come forth 
from this troublous time like gold from the furnace. So far I 
have been able to do all that was necessary and I trust I shall 
continue so. God bless you, and bring us to a happy meeting 
in His own good time ! 

.... Boiling over does one good of itself, and I am sure you 
feci the better for having done so. I do not know why men 
,^^.^ seem to get along without such reliefs as women al- 
Hh-arns, most always seek in this waiy ; whether there is less 
^^r/r water in their kettles or whether their kettles are big- 
^^^- ' ger than ours and boil with more safety. It is a com- 
fort to believe that, whatever our troubles, in the end all will 
work together for our good. The new year has opened upon 
us here at Gcnevrier pretty gloomily, as George has told you. 
You will not be surprised, therefore, to hear that M. is also 
quite sick, much sicker than G. She is one of those meek, 
precious little darlings whom it is painful to see suffer, and I 
have hardly known what I was about, or where I was, since she 
was taken down. My baby is deserted by us all ; I have only 
seen him in vwmenis for three weeks. You can not think how 
lonely poor A. is ; half the time she eats alone in the big soli- 
tary dining-room ; nobody has any time to walk out with her, 
what few children she knew are afraid to come here or to have 
her come nigh them, and I feel as if I should fly, when I think 
of i<; — for she is not strong or well and her life here in Switzer- 
land has been a series of disappointments and anxieties. The 



IN RETRF.AT AMONG THE ATTS. 1S7 

only leisure moments I can snatch in the course of the twenty 
four hours I have to spend in writing to George ; but the Jast 
few evenings M. has slept, so that I could play a game of chess 
with her and try to cheer and brace her up against next day's 
dreariness. All her splendid dreams of getting off from this 
solitude to the life and" stir of Paris have been dissipated, but 
she has never uttered one word of complaint ; I have not heard 
her say as much iis " Isn't it too bad ! " And indeed we ought 
none of us to say so or to feel so, for the doctor assures me 
that for three such delicate children as he considers ours, to 
pass safely through whooping-cough and scarlet-fever, is a per- 
fect wonder and that he is sure it is owing to the pure country 
air. And when I think how different a scene our house might 
present if our three little ones had been snatched away, as 
three or four even have been from other families, I am ashamed 
of myself that I dare to sigh, that I am lonely and friendless 
here, or that I have anything to complain of. It has been no 
small trial, however, to pass through such anxieties in so re- 
mote a place, with George gone ; while on the other hand I 
have been most thankful that he has been spared all the details 
of the children's ailments, and permitted once more to feel 
himself about his Master's business. Providence most plainly 
called him to Paris, and I trust he will stay there and get good 
till we can join him. But I feel uneasy about him, too, lesl 
his anxiety about the children should hang as a dead weight 
on his not quite rested head and heart. At any rate, I shall be 
tolerably glad to see him again at the end of our two months' 
separation. Flow I should love to drop in on you to-ni^ht ! 
Doesn't it seem as if one could if one tried hard enough I Well, 
g^ood night to you. 

I believe George has written you about our private hospital. 
To Mrs. ^^^ ^^^ "^^ been gone to Paris forty-eight hours when 
Smith, Q ^vas taken sick ; that was a month as^o, and I have 

Genevi lefy ^ 

yati. 20, only tasted the air twice in all that time. G. had the 
^ ^' disease lightly. M., poor little darling, was much 
sicker than he was. It is a fortnight since she was taken and 
she hardlj- sits up at all ; an older child would be in bed, but 
little ones never will give up if they can help it ; I suppose it is 
because they can be held in the arms and rocked, and carried 



£88 THE LIFE OF MRS. PFENTISS. 

about. I have passed through some most anxious hours on ac- 
count of M., and it seems little less than a miracle that she is 
still alive. The baby is well, and he is a nice little rosy fellow. 
It was a dreadful disappointment to us to be detained here in- 
stead of going to Paris. I felt that I couldn't live longer in such 
enl ire solitude ; and just then, lo and behold, George was whisked 
off and I was shut up closer than ever. It is a great comfort to 
me that he got off just when he did, and has had grace to stay 
away ; on the other hand, I need not say how his absence has 
aggravated my cares, how solitary the season of anxiety has 
been, and how, at times, my faith and courage have been put to 
their utmost stretch. The whole thing has been so evidently or- 
dered and planned by God that I have not dared to complain ; 
but, my dear child, if you had come in now and then with a little 
of your strengthening talk, I can't deny I should have been most 
thankful. It has been pretty trying for George to hear such dole- 
ful accounts from home, but I hope the worst is over, and that 
we shall be the wiser and the better for this new lesson of life. 
Dr. Curchod's rule is the same as Dr. Buck's— forty days con- 
finement to one room ; so we have a month more to spend here. 
I am afraid I am writing a gloomy letter. If I am, you must 
try to excuse me and say, " Poor child, she isn't well, and she 
hasn't had any good sleep lately, and she's tired, and I don't 
believe she ?neans to grumble." Do so much for me, and I'll do 
as much for you sometime. I hear your husband has taken up 
a Bible-class. It is perfectly shocking. Does he icant to kill 
himself, or what ails him? The plea.antest remembrance we 

sh-dl have of tliis place is his visit Our doctor and his 

family stand out as bright lights in this picture ; he has been 
like a brother in sympathy and kindness. We shall never for- 
get it. God has been so good to you and to me in sparing our 
children when assailed by so fearful a disease, that we ought to 
love Him better than we ever did. I do so want my weary 
xolitude to bear that fruit. 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. 189 



IV. 

Paris. Sight-seein^^. A sick Friend. London and its Environs. The Queen and 
Prince Albert. The Isle of Wig:ht. Homeward. 

On the 20th of February the family gladly bade adieu lo 
Switzerland and set out for Paris, arriving there on the morn- 
ing of the 22d. Mrs. Prentiss was overjoyed to find herself 
once more in the world. On the 23d she wrote to Mrs. 
Smith : 

We have got here safe and sound with our little batch of in- 
valids. They bore the journey very well and are heartily glad 
to get into the world again. I am chock-full of worldliness. 
All I think of is dress and fashion, and, on the whole, I don't 
know that you are worth writing to, as you were never in Paris 
and don't know the modes, and have perhaps foolishly left off 
hoops and open sleeves. I long, however, to hear from you 
and your new babby, and will try to keep a small spot swept 
clear of finery in my heart of hearts, where you can sit down 
when you've a mind. Our little fellow is getting to be a sweet- 
looking baby, with what his nurse calls a most " gracieuse " 
smile — if you can guess what kind of a smile that is. But he 
is getting teeth and is looking delicate and soft, and your Her- 
cules will knock him dcfwn, I know. 

But Paris was far from fulfilling to her or to the children 
the bright anticipations with which it had been looked for- 
ward to from lonely Genevrier. The weather could hardly 
have been worse ; the house soon became another hospital ; 
and sight-seeing was a task. Friends, however, soon gathered 
about her, and by their hospitality and little kindnesses, re- 
lieved the tedium of the weai-y days. 

We pass many lonely hours in this big city, and often long 

for you and Mr. Stearns to drop in, or for a chance to 

Stearns ^^" ^^ ^^ ^ce dear mother. Getting nearer home 

Paris, makes it attractive. It works in the natural life just 

Afar en 27, . 

1S60. as It does in the spiritual in that respect. The weather 
is dreadful and has been for five months — scarcely one 



IQO THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

cheeiy day in that whole time. What with this and the chil 
dren's ill-health, 1 should not wonder if we left Paris as igno- 
rant of its beauties as when we came. But I hope we shall not 
let that worry us too much, but rather be thankful that, bad as 
things are, they are not so bad as they might be. Our sympa- 
thies are greatly excited now for the Rev. Mr. Little, formerly of 
Bangor, who is in Paris — alone, friendless, and sick. If we could 
by any miraculous power stretch our scanty accommodations, 
we should certainly take him home and nurse him till his wife 
could be got here. You know, perhaps, that Mrs. Little is a 
daughter of Dr. Cornelius ; and, when I recall the love and 
honor I was taught to feel towards him when I was a little girl, 
my heart quite yearns towards her, especially in this time of 
fearful anxiety about her husband. How insignificant my own 
trials look to me, when I think of the sorrow which is probably 
before her. 

April 26f/L — Our patience is still tried by the cold, damp, 
and most unwholesome weather, which prevents the children 
from going to see anything. But we do not care so much for 
ourselves or for them as for poor Mr. Little, who is exceedingly 
feeble, chiefly confined to his room, and so forlorn in this 
strange, homeless land. While George w^as with him last even- 
ing, he had a bad fit of coughing, which resulted in the raising 
of a gill or so of blood. I know you will feel interested to hear 
about him, and will not wonder that our hearts are so full of 
sympathy for him and for his poor wife, that we can hardly 
talk of anything else. He expects her in about a week. What 
a coming to Europe for her ! How little those who stand on 
the shore to watch the departure of a foreign steamer, know 
what they do wiien they envy its passengers ! . . . . We buckled 
on our armor and began sight-seeing the other day, going to 
see the Sainte Chapelle and the galleries and museum of the 
Louvre among the rest. The Sainte Chapelle is quite unlike 
anything I ever saw and delighted us extremely. As to the 
Louvre, one needs several entire days to do justice to it, besides 
a- amount of youthful enthusiasm and bodily strength which 
we do not possess ; for, amid midnight w^atchings over our sick 
children and the like, the oil of gladness has about burnt out 
and we find sight-seeing a weary task. 

-^^(^y 25///. — It does seem as if George's preachip;^- was lis 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. I9I 

tened to with more and more serious attention, and it may be 
seen long after he has rested from his labors on earth, that he 
has done a good work here. We both are much interested in 
Professor* Huntington's sermons,^ sent us by Miss W. This is a 
great deal for me to say, because I do not like to read sermons 
During the last three weeks, before Mr. and Mrs. Little left, \vt 
accomplished very little. It was not that we did or could do 
so very much for them, but they had nobody to depend on but 
us, and George was constantly going back and forth trying to 
make them comfortable, arranging all their affairs, etc. She 
had a weary, anxious two weeks here, and now has set her face 
homewards, not knowing but Mr. L. may sink before reaching 
America. It is a great comfort to us to have been able to 
soothe them somewhat as long as they stayed in Paris. George 
says it was worth coming here for that alone. I say wc, but I 
mean George, for what was done he did. The most I could do 
was to feel dreadfully for them.^ 

We are now to begin sight-seeing again, and do all we can 
as speedily as possible, for only two weeks remain. The chil- 
dren are now pretty well. The baby is at that dangerous age 
when they are forever getting upon their feet and tumbling 
over backward on their heads. M. is the oddest little soul. 
Belle says she would rather go to a funeral than sec all the 
shops in Paris, and, when they are out, she can hardly keep 
her from following every such procession they meet. I asked 
her the last time they went out if she had had a nice walk. 
She said not very nice, as she had only seen one pretty thing, and 
that was a police-officer taking a man to jail. The idea of go- 
ing to England is very pleasant, and, if we only keep tolerably 
well, I think it will do us all good. What is dear mother do- 
Now Bishop of the P. E. Church of Central New York. 

'^ "Christian Believing- and Living." 

' The Rev. George B. Little was born in Castine, Maine, December 21, i8ji. lie vvaj 
paduated at Bowdoin College in 1843. Having studied theology at Andover, he was 
ordained in 1849 pastor of the First Congregational church in Bangor, Me. In 1S50 he 
married Sarah Edwards, daughter of that admirable and whole-souled servant cf Christ, 
Hie Rev. Ehas Cornelius, D.D. In November, 1857, Mr. Little was installed a.s paiioi 
of the Congregational church in West Ne^vton, Mass. Eady in March, 1S60, he went 
abroad for his health, but returned home again in May, and died among his own people, 
July 20, 1S60. The last words he uttered were, " I shaU soon be with Christ." Mr. Lit- 
Ue was a man of superior gifts, full of scholarly enthusiasm, and devoted to his Master's 
woric. 



IQ2 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

ing about these times ? I always think of her as sitting by the 
little work-table in her room, knitting and watching the chiK 
dren. Give lots of love and kisses to her, and tell her we lonj; 
to see her face to face. Kiss all the children for us — I suppos'i 
they'll letjw// boys and all — and you may do as much for Mr. 
S. if you want to. Good-bye. 

On the 7th of June the family left Paris for London. A 
first visit to England — 

That precious stone set in the silver sea — 

is always an event full of interest to children of the New En- 
gland Puritans. The " sceptered isle " is still in a sense their 
mother-country, and a thousand ancestral ties attract them to 
its shores. There is no other spot on earth where so many 
lines of their history, domestic and public, meet. And in 
London, what familiar memories are for them associated with 
almost every old street and lane and building ! 

The winter and spring of i860 had been cold, wet and 
cheerless well-nigh beyond endurance ; and the summer proved 
hardly less dreary. It rained nearly every day, sometimes all 
day and all night ; the sun came out only at long intervals, 
and then often but for a moment ; the atmosphere, much of 
the time, was like lead ; the moon and stars seemed to have 
left the sky ; even the English landscape, in spite of its match- 
less verdure and beauty, put on a forbidding aspect. All 
nature, indeed, was under a cloud. This, added to her frail 
health, made the summer a very trying one to Mrs. Prentiss, 
and yet it afforded her not a little real delight. Some of her 
pleasantest days in Europe were spent in England. The fol- 
lowing extracts are from a little journal kept by her in London : 

June 10///.— We went this morning to hear Dr. Hamilton, 
and were greatly edified by the sermon, which was on the text : 
" ITilherto hath the Lord helped us." In the afternoon we de- 
cided to go to Westminster Abbey. It began to rain soon after 
we got out, and we had a two miles' walk through the mud. 
The old abbey looked as much like its picture as it could, but 
pictures can not give a true idea of the grandeur of such a 



IN RKTREAT AMONG THE ALPS. 



193 



building. We were a little late, and every seat was full and 
many were standing, as we had to do through the whole service. 
The sermon struck me as a very ordinary affair, though it was 
delivered by a lord. But the music was so s\yeet, performed 
for aught I know by angels — for the choir was invisible— and 
we stood surrounded by such monuments and covered by such 
a roof, that we were not quite throwing away our time. Albert 

B dined with us, and in the evening, with one accord, we 

went to hear Dr. Hamilton again. We had good seats and 
heard a most beautiful as well as edifying discourse on the 
first verses of the 103d Psalm. Some of the images were very 
tine, and the whole tone of the sermon was moderate, sensible, 
and serious. I use these words advisedly, for I had an impres- 
sion that he was a flowery, popular man whom I should not 
relish. At the close of the service a little prayer-meeting of 
half an hour was held, and we came home satisfied with our 
first English Sunday, feeling some of our restless cravings al- 
ready quieted as only contact with God's own people could 
quiet them. 

wth. — Went to see the Crystal Palace. It proved a fine 
day, and we took M. with us. None of us felt quite well, but 
we enjoyed this new and beautiful scene for all that. It is a 
little fairy land. 

14///. — Went to Westminster Abbey, and spent some time 
there. On coming out we made a rapid, but quite amusing 
passage through several courts where we saw numerous great 
personages in stiff little gray wigs. To my untrained, irreverent 
eyes they all looked perfectly funny. George was greatly inter- 
ested and edified. It has been raining and shining b}' turns all 
day, and is this evening very cold. 

15///. — Another of those days which the English so euniioni 
casly term '^ nasty " Not knowing what else to do with it, wc 
set off in search of No. 5 Sermon Lane, a house connected with 
a j;tcreoscopic establishment in Paris, which we reached after 
many evolutions and convolutions, and found it to be a wlioie- 
sale concern only. Pitying us for the trouble we had been at 
in seeking them, they let us have what views we wanted, but at 
higher prices than they sell them at Paris. We then went to 
the 1 ract House, and while selecting French and other tiacts. 
13 



ir)4 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

a gentleman came and asked for a quantity of the " Last Hours 
of Dr. Payson." 

i6//;.__\Vent to the Tower, and had a most interest- 
incr visit there. We were particularly struck by some spots 
shown us by one of the wardens, after the regular round had 
been gone through with, and the other visitors dispersed-- 
namely, the cell where prisoners were confined with thumb- 
screws attached to elicit confession, and the floor where Lady 
fane Grey was imprisoned. We looked from the window where 
she saw her husband carried to execution, and A. was locked 
up in the room so as to be able to say she had been a prisoner 
in the Tower. 

i7//^._Heard Dr. Hamilton again. Met Dr. and Mrs. 
Adams of New York there, and had a most kind and cor- 
dial greeting from them. Dr. A. introduced us to Dr. Hamil- 
ton. In the evening we went to hear Dr. Adams at Dr. H.'s 
church, and came home quite proud of our countryman, who 
gave us a most excellent sermon. At the close of the service 
Dr. H. invited us to take tea with him next week, and intro- 
duced us to his wife ; a young, quiet little lady, looking as un- 
like most of us American parsonesses as possible, her parochial 
cares being, perhaps, less weighty than ours. 

i8M.— Two things made this day open pleasantly. One was 
a decided attempt on the part of the sun to come out and 
shine. The second was Dr. Adams' dropping in and taking 
breakfast with us. We also got letters from home, and the 
news that Mr. Little had reached New York in safety. After 
lunch, George went off in glory to the House of Commons, 
hinting that he might stay there till to-morrow morning, and 
begging for a night-key to let himself in. The rest of us went 
to the Zoological Garden, which is much more ample and in- 
teresting than the Jardin des Plantes. 

2oth. — Yesterday it poured in torrents all day, so that going 
out was not possible. To-day we went out in the drops and 
between the drops, to do a little shopping in the way of razors, 
scissors, knives, needles, and such like sharp and pointed things. 
We stepped into Nesbit's and took a view of Little Susy, who 
looked as usual, bought a few books, subscribed to a library, 
coveted our neighbor's property, and came home cov<=:red with 
mud and mire. 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. I95 

22d. — Went out to Barnet to call on Miss Bird. On reach- 
ing the station, we found Miss B. awaiting us with phaeton 
and pony. We were driven over' a pretty three miles route tn 
"Hurst Cottage," where we were introduced to Mrs. Bird and 
a younger daughter, and I had a nice little lunch, together with 
pleasant chat about America in general and E. L. S. in particu- 
lar. Miss Bird said she showed her likeness to a gentleman, 
who is a great physiognomist, and asked his opinion of her. 
He replied, " She is a genius, a poetess, a Christian, and a true 
wife and mother." We then went up-stairs, and looked at Miss 
B.'s little study, after which she took us to see the church in 
Hadley, a very old building dating back to 1494. It lias been 
repaired and restored and is a beautiful little church. On 
leaving it Miss Bird came with us a part of the way to the 
station and we got home in good season for dinner. The 
weather, true to its rule, could not last fine, and so this even- 
ing if is raining again.' 

24//!. — No rain all day ! Can it be true? George went in 
the morning to hear Mr. Binney, and A. and I to Dr. Hamil- 
ton' s, who preached a very good sermon on a favorite text ot 
mine, "I beseech Thee show me Thy glory." In the evening 
Dr. Patton, of New York, induced us to go with himself and 
wife to a meeting at a theatre three miles off. The Rev. Mr 
Graham preached. It was an interesting, but touching and 
saddening sight to look upon the congregation ; to wonder 
why they came, and whether they would come again, and 
whethe,'- under those stolid and hardened faces there yet lay 
humanity. Many came with babies in their arms, who made 
themselves very much at home ; some were in dirty week-day 
clothes ; "some ii rags and some in jags." Coming home we 
passed the spot where John Rogers was burned, and that where 
in time of the plague dead bodies were thrown in frighifu' 
heaps into one grave. 

25//^. — We took tea at Dr. Hamilton's, where we had a 
very pleasant evening, meeting Dr. and Mrs. Adams, as well as 
all Dr. H.'s session. Dr. H. strikes one most agreeably, and 
seems as genial and as full of life as a boy. 

26///.— Visited Windsor Castle with Dr. Adams and his jxirty 

' Miss Bird is known to the world by her remarkable books of travel in Japan and else- 
vhere. 



196 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

ten of us in all. We drove afterward to see the country church 
yard, where Grey wrote his elegy and where lie now lies buried 
This was a most charming litlle trip and we all enjoyed it ex 
ceedingly. The young folks gathered leaves and flowers foi 
their books. 

29///. — Last evening we had a nice time and a cup of tea 
with the Adamses. To-day — another nasty day — they lunched 
with us, which broke up its gloom and we went with them to 
see Sloan's museum, a most interesting collection. We all en- 
joyed its novelty as well as its beauty. 

She also records the pleasure with which she visited the 
National Galleiy, Madame Tussaud's Collection, the British 
Museum, Richmond, the Kew Gardens, and Bunhill Fields 
Burying-Ground, and, in particular, the grave of " Mr. John 
Bunyan." 

Not long before leaving London she attended a Sunday 
evening service for the people in Westminster Abbey, which 
interested her deeply. It suggested — or rather was the origi- 
nal of- -the scene in 77ie Story Lizzie Told : 

When we first got into that grand place, I was scared, and thought they 
would drive us poor folks out. But when I looked round, most everybody 
was poor too. At last I saw some of them get down on their knees, and 
some shut their eyes, and some took off their hats and held them over their 
faces. Father couldn't, because he had me in liis arms ; and so I touk it 
off, and held it for him. 

" What's it for? " says I. 

" Hush," says father, " the parson's praying." 

When I showed Ir to God, the room seemed full of Him. But that's 
d small room. The church is a million and a billion times as big, isni it, 
ma'am ? But when the minister prayed, that big church seemed just as 
full as it could hold. Then, all of a sudden, they burst out a-singing. 
Father showed me the card with large letters on it, and says he, " Sing, 
Lizzie, Sing ! " 

And so I did. It was the first time in my life. The hymn said, 

Jesus, lover of my soul, 
Let me to Thy bosom fly, 

and I whispered to father, " Is Jesus God "t " " Yes, yes," said he, " Sing, 
Lizzie, sing ! " 

After the praying and the singing, came the preaching. I heard e\ ery 
word. It was a beautiful story. It told how sorry Jesus was for us when 



IN RKTRI-AT AMONG THE ALPS. Ujy 

cv-c; (lid wrong, ])ad things, and how glad He was when we were good and 
hnppy. It said we must tell Him all our troubles and all our joys, and feci 
sure that He knew just how to pity us, because He had been a poor man 
fhree and thirty years, on purpose to see how it seemed. 

The most stirring sight by far which she witnessed while 
in London, was a review of 20,000 volunteers by the Queen 
in Hyde Park, on the 23d of June. She waited for it several 
hours, standing much of the time upon a camp-stool As her 
Majesty appeared, accompanied by Prince Albert, the curios- 
ity of the immense crowd " rose to such a pitch that every 
conceivable method was resorted to, to catch a glimpse of the 
field. Men climbed on each other's shoulders, gave ' fabulous 
prices ' for chairs, boxes, and baskets, raised' their wives and 
sweethearts high in the air, and so by degrees our view was 
quite obstructed." ' The scene did not, perhaps, in numbers 
or in the brilliant array of fashion, rank, and beauty surpass, 
nor in military pomp and circumstance did it equal, a grand 
review she had witnessed not long before in the Champ de 
Mars; but in other respects it was far more impressive 
Among the volunteers were thousands of young men in whose 
veins ran the best and most precious blood in England. And 
then to an American wife and mother, Queen Victoria was 
a million times more interesting than Louis Napoleon. She 
stood then, as happily she still stands, at the head of the Chris- 
tian womanhood of the world ; and that in virtue not solely 
of her exalted position and influence, but of her rare personal 
and domestic virtues as well. She was then also at the very 
height of her felicity. How little she or any one else in that 
thronging multitude dreamed, that before the close of the 
coming year the form of the noble Prince, who rode by her 
side wearing an aspect of such manly beauty and content, and 
who was so worthy to be her husband, would lie mouldering 
in the grave ! "^ 

I An account of the Volunteer Review in Hyde Park is f;:iven in Sir Tlicodnre ^fa^tin•s 
admirable Life of the Prince Consort, Vol. V., pp. 105-6, Am. Ed. Tiie Prince him 
self, in responding to a toast the same evening', speaks of it as "a scene which will never 
fade from the memory of those who had the good fortune to be present," 

' It is hardly possible to allude to the great affliction of this illustrious lady without 
Ihinking also of the persistent acts of womanly sympathy by which, during; the an-uisb 



198 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

About the middle of July Mrs. Prentiss with her husband 
and children left London for Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, 
where, in spite of cold and rainy weather, she passed twD hap- 
py months. With the exception of Chateau d'Oex, no place 
in Europe had proved to her such a haven of rest. Miss Scott, 
the hostess, was kindness itself. The Isle of Wight in summer 
is a little paradise ; and in the vicinity of Ventnor are some of 
its loveliest scenes. Her enjoyment was enhanced by the so- 
ciety of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Abbott, who were then sojourning 
there. A.n excursion taken with Mr. Abbott was doubly attract- 
ive ; for, as m.ight be inferred from his books, he was one of 
the most genial and instructive of companions, whether for 
young or old. A pilgrimage to the home and grave of the 
Dairyman's Daughter and to the grave of " Little Jane," and 
a day and night at Alum Bay, were among the pleasantest inci- 
dents of the summer at Ventnor. 

Of the visit to " Little Jane's " grave she gives the follow-, 
ing account in her journal : 

yltt^^. to///. — To-day being unusually fine, we undertook our 
long-talked-of expedition to Brading. On reaching the church- 
yard we asked a little boy who followed us in if he could point 
out " Little Jane's " grave ; he said he could and led us at once 
to the spot. How little s/ie dreamed that pilgrimages would be 
made to her grave ! Our pigmy guide next conducted us to 
the grave-stones, where her task was learned. " How old are 
you, little fellow?" I asked. ''Getting on to five,'' he replied. 
'And does everybody who comes here give you something?" 
''Some don't." "That's very naughty of them," I continued; 
"after all your trouble they ought to give you something." A 
shrewd smile was his answer, and George then gave him some 
pennies. " What do you do with your pennies ?" I asked. "I 
puts them in my pocket." "And then what do you do?" "I 
saves them up." " And what then ? " " My mother buys shoes 
when I get enough. She is going to buy me some soon with 

aiul suspense of the past two montlis, she has tiled to minister comfort to the stricken 
wife of our suffcrini,' and now sainted President. Certainly, the whole case is unique in 
the history of tlie world. By this most tender and Christ-like sympathy, she has en- 
deared lierself in a wonderful manner to the heart of the American people. God bless 
Qcieen Victoria ! they say with one voice. — Neio Yorb^ SepUtnber 24, 1S81. 



IN RETREAT AMONG THE ALPS. 



199 



nath in them ! These are dropping to pieces" (no such thinfr)_ 
" If that is the case," quoth George, " I think I must give you 
some more pennies." "Thank you," said the boy. " Do you 
see my sword ?" George then asked him if he went to church 
and to Sunday-school. " Oh, yes, and there was an organ, and 
they learned to sing psalms." "And to love God?" asked 
George. "Yes, yes," he answered, but not with much unction, 
and so we turned about and came home. 

As this is to be our last letter home, it ought to be a very 
To Mrs. brilliant one, but I am sure it won't ; and when I look 
Stearns, back over the past two years and think how many 

] entnor, . 

Aug. 24, Stupid ones I have written you, I feel almost ashamed 
of m3^self. Dut on the other hand I wonder I have 
written no duller ones, for our staying so long at a time in one 
place has given small chance for variety and description. It is 
raining and blowing at a rate that you, who are roasting at 
home, can hardly conceive ; we agreed yesterday that if you 
were blindfolded and suddenly set dowm here and told to guess 
what season of the year it was, you would judge by your feel- 
ings and the wind roaring down the chimney, that it was De- 
cember. However disagreeable this may be it is more invigor- 
ating than hot weather, and George and the children h^ive all 
improved very much. George enjoys bathing and climbing the 
"downs" and the children are out nearly all day when it does 
not rain. You may remember that the twilight is late in En- 
gland, and even the baby is often out till half-past eight or 

nine I just keep my head above water by having no 

cares or fatigue at night. I feel dreadfully that I am so help- 
less a creature, but I believe God keeps me so for my mortifi- 
cation and improvement, and that 1 ought to be willing to lead 
this good-for-nothing life if He chooses. We have had the 
pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Abbott here. They have 
gone now to spend the winter in Paris. Mrs. A. sent her love 
to you again and again, and I was very glad to meet her for 
your sake as well as her own, and to know Mr. A. better than I 
did before, and it was very pleasant to George to chat with 
him. Wc walked together to see Shanklin Chine. A. went 
with us, and Mr. Abbott amused her so on the way ihat she 
came home quite dissatisfied with her stupid papa and mamma 



;,00 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

We are talking of little else now but getting home, and it is 
a pity you could not take down the walls of our hidden souls 
and see the various wishes and feelings we have on the subject. 
I forgot to say how glad we were that you found George Pren- 
tiss such a nice boy/ I always loved him for Abby's sake and he 
certainly was worthy of the affection she felt for him as the most 
engaging child I ever knew ; he is a thorough Prentiss still, it 
seems. What is he going to be ? You must feel queer to have 
a boy in college ; it is like a strange dream. Our boys are two 
spunky little toads who need, or will need, all our energies to 
bring up. I have quite got my hand out, M. is so good— and 
hate to begin. But good-bye, with love to mother, Mr. S. and 
the children. 

The family embarked at Cowes on the magnificent steam- 
ship ''Adriatic," September 13th, and, after a rough voyage, 
reached New York on the 24th of the same month. Old 
friends awaited their coming and welcomed them home again 
with open arms. It was a happy day for Mrs. Prentiss, and 
in the abundance of its joy she forgot the anxious and solitary 
months through which she had just been passing. She came 
back with four children instead of three; her husband was, 
partially at least, restored to health ; and she breathed once 
more her native air. 

> The eldest son of her brother-in-law, Mr. S. S. Prentiss, a youth of rare promise 
and wiio had especially endeared himself lo his Aunt Abby. He died of fever at Talla 
homa, Tennessee, during the war. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE STRUGGLE WITH ILL-HEALTH. 

1861-1S65. 

I. 

At Home again in New York. The Church of the Covenant. Increasing lU-heUth, 
The Summer of 1861. Death of Louisa Payson Hopkins. Extracts from her Jour- 
nal. Summer of 1S62. Letters. Despondency. 

We come now to a new phase of Mrs. Prentiss' experi- 
ence as a pastor's wife. Before her husband resigned his New 
York charge, during the winter of 1857-8, the question of hold- 
ing a service in the upper part of the city, with the view to an- 
other congregation, was earnestly discussed in the session and 
among the leading members of the church, but nothing then 
came of it. Soon after his return from Europe, however, the 
project w^as revived, and resulted at length in the formation 
of the Church of the Covenant. In consequence of the great 
civil war, which was then raging, the undertaking encoun- 
tered difficulties so formidable, that nothing but extraordinary 
zeal, liberality, and wise counsel on the part of his friends and 
the friends of the movement could overcome them. For two 
or three years the new congregation held service in what was 
then called Dodworth's Studio Building at the corner of Fifth 
avenue and Twenty-sixth street, but in 1864 it entered the 
chapel on Thirty-fifth street, and in 1865 occupied the stately 
edifice on Park avenue. In the manifold labors, trials, and dis- 
couragements connected with this work, Mrs. Prentiss shared 
with her husband; and, when finally crowned with the happiest 
success, it owed perhaps as much to her as to him. This brief 
statement seems needful in order to define and render clear 
her position, as a pastor's wife, during the next twelve years. 

(2011 



202 THE LIFE OP MRS. PRENTISS. 

After spending some weeks in Newark and Portland, she 
found herself once more in New York in a home of her own 
and surrounded by friends, both old and new. The records 
of the following four or five years are somewhat meagre and 
furnish few incidents of special significance. The war, with 
its terrible excitement and anxieties, absorbed all minds and 
left little spare time for thought or feeling about anything 
else. Domestic and personal interests were entirely over- 
shadowed by the one supreme interest of the hour — that of 
the imperiled National life. It was for Mrs. Prentiss a period 
also of almost continuous ill-health. The sleeplessness from 
which she had already suffered so much assumed more and 
more a chronic character, and, aggravated by other ailments 
and by the frequent illness of her younger children, so under- 
mined her strength, that life became at times a heavy burden. 
She felt often that her days of usefulness were past. But the 
Master had yet a great work for her to do, and — 

In ways various, . 

Or, might I say, contrarious — 

He was training her for it during these years of bodily infirm- 
ity and suffering. 

The summer of 1861 Avas passed at Newport. In a letter 
to Mrs. Smith, dated July 28th, she writes: 

We find the Cliff House delightful, within a few minutes' 
walk of the sea, which we have in full view from one of our 
windows. And we have no lack of society, for the Bancrofts, 
Miss Aspinwall and her sister, as well as the Skinners, are very 
friendly. Piut I am so careworn and out of sorts, that this 
beautiful ocean gives me little comfort. I seem to be all the 
time toting one child or another about, or giving somebody 
paregoric or rhubarb, or putting somebody to sleep, or scold- 
ing somebody for waking up papa, who is miserable, and his 
oration untouched. There, don't mind me ; it s at the end of a 
churchless Sunday, and I dare say I am "only peevis'," as the 
little boy said. 

But in a few weeks the children were well again and hei 



THE STRUGGLE Wl'lll 1 1.l.-I lEALTIT. 2C3 

Dwn health so much improved, that she was able to indulge 
in surf-bathing, which she "enjoyed tremendously," and early 
in the fall the whole family returned to town greatly refreshed 
by the summer's rest. 

On the 24th of January, 1862, her sister, j\Irs. Hopkins, 
died. This event touched her deeply. She hurried off to 
VVilliamstown, whence she wrote to her husband, who was un- 
able to accompany her : 

If you had known that I should not get here till half-past 
nine last night, and that in an open sleigh from North Adams, 
you would not have let me come. But so far I am none the 
worse for it ; and, when I came in and found the Professor and 
T. and Eddy sitting here all alone and so forlorn in their un- 
accustomed leisure, I could not be thankful enough that a kind 
Providence had allowed me to come. It is a very great gratifi- 
cation to them all, especially to the Professor, and even more 
so than I had anticipated. In view of the danger of being 
blocked up by another snow-storm, I shall probably think it 
best to return by another route, which they all say is the best. 
I hope you and my precious children keep well. 

No picture of Mrs. Prentiss' life would be complete, in 
which her sister's influence was not distinctly visible. To tliis 
influence she owed the best part of her earlier intellectual 
training; and it did much to mould her whole character. Mrs. 
Hopkins was one of the most learned, as well as most gifted, 
women of her day; and had not ill-health early disabled hex 
for literary labors, she might, perhaps, have won for herself 
an enduring name in the literature of the country. There 
were striking points of resemblance between her and Sara 
Coleridge ; the same early intellectual bloom ; the same rare 
union of feminine delicacy and sensibility with masculine 
strength and breadth of understanding; the same taste for the 
beautiful in poetry, in art, and in nature, joined to similar 
fondness for metaphysical studies ; the same delight in books 
of devotion and in books of theology ; and the same varied 
erudition. Only one of them seems to have been an accon:- 
plished Hebraist, but both were good Latin and Greek scIkjI 



204 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

ars ; and both were familiar with Italian, Spanish, French, and 
German. Even in Sara Coleridge's admiration and reverence 
for her father, Mrs. Hopkins was in full sympathy with her. 
She lacked, indeed, that poetic fancy which belonged to the 
author of " Phantasmion ; " nor did she possess her mental self- 
poise and firmness of will ; but in other respects, even in 
physical organization and certain features of countenance, 
they were singularly alike. And they both died in the fiftieth 
year of their age. 

Louisa Payson was born at Portland, Februar}^ 24, 1812. 
Even as a child she was the object of tender interest to hei 
father on account of her remarkable intellectual promise. He 
took the utmost pains to aid and encourage her in learning to 
study and to think. The impression he made upon her may 
be seen in the popular little volume entitled " The Pastor's 
Daughter," Avhich consists largely of conversations with him, 
written out from memory after his death. She was then in 
her sixteenth year. The records of the next eight years, 
Avhich were mostly spent in teaching, are very meagre ; but a 
sort of literary journal, kept by her between 1835 and 1840, 
shows something of her mental quality and. character, as also 
of her course of reading. She was twenty-three years old 
when the journal opens. Here are a few extracts from it : 

Boston, A^ov. 18, 1835. 

Last evening I passed in company with Mr. Dana.' I conversed with 
him only for a few moments about Mr. Alcott's school, and had not time to 
ask one of the ten thousand questions I wished to ask. I have been trying 
t<> analyse the feeling I have for men of genius, Coleridge, Wordsworth and 
Dana, for example. I can understand why I feel for them unbounded ad- 
miration, reverence and affection, but I hardly know why there should be 
so much excitement— painful excitement— mingled with these emotions. 
Next to possessing genius myself would be the pleasure of living with one 
who possessed it. 

Nero. 19///.— I have read to-day one canto of Dante's Inferno and eight 
or ten pages of Cicero de Amicitia. In this, as well as in de Senectute 
vvliich I have just finished, I am much interested. I confess I am not a lit- 
tie surprised to find how largely the moderns are indebted to the ancients 
how many wise observations on life, and death, the soul, time, eternity 

■ Richard H. Dana, the poet. 



THE STRUGGLE WITH ILI.-HF AT.TH. 205 

stc, have been repeated by the sages of every g-eneration since the da /s o< 
Cicero. 

Ja7t. i^th, 1836.— 1 spent last evening with Mr. Dana, and the conver- 
sation was, of course, of great interest. We talked of some of the leading 
Reviews of the day, and then of the character of our literature as connected 
with our political institutions. This led to a long discussion of the latter 
subject, but as the same views are expressed in Mr. D.'s article on Law, I 
shall pass it over.' I differed from him in regard to the French comedit 3, 
especially those of Moliere ; however, he allowed that they contain genuine 
humor, but they are confined to the exhibition oi 07ie ridiculous point in the 
character, instead of giving us the whole man as Shakespeare does. 

Sept. lid. — This morning I have had one of the periods of insight, 
when the highest spiritual truths pertaining to the divine and human nat- 
ures, become their own light and evidence, as well as the evidence of other 
truths. No speculations, no ridicule can shake my faith in that which I 
thus see and/*W. 1 was particularly interested in thinking of the regenera- 
tion of the spirit and the part which Faith, Hope, and Love, have in effect- 
ing it. 

Sab. 2yi. — It seems to me that this truth alone, there is a God, is suffi- 
cient, rightly believed, to make every human being absolutely and perfectly 
happy. 

Ja7t. i^f/i, 1S39. — Wednesday evening attended Mr. Emerson's lectiu-e 
on Genius, of which I shall attempt to say nothing except that it was most 
delightful. Thursday morning Mr. Emerson'' called to see me and gave me 
a ticket for his course. Afterwards Mr. Dana called. 

It seems to me that I have lived backwards ; in other words, the ficul- 
ties of my mind which were earliest developed, were those which in other 
minds come last — reflection and solidity of judgment ; while fancy and 
imagination, in so far as I have any at all, have followed. 

Sat. Jan. 26tk. — My occupations in the way of books at present, con- 
sist in reading "Antigone," Guizot's "History," Lockhart's "Scott," and 
sundries. I am also translating large extracts from Claiulius, with a view 
to writing an article about him, if the fates shall so will it.^ 

Thurs. Jan. 31^-/. — Mr. Emerson's lecture last night was on Comedv. 
He professed to enter on the subject with reluctance, as conscious of a de- 
ficiency in the organ of the ludicrous — a profession, however, that was 
not substantiated very well by the lecture itself, which convulserl the audi- 
ence with laughter. He spoke in the commencement of the silent history 
written in the faces of an assembly, making them as interesting to a spec- 
tator as if their lives were written in their features. 

' The article referred to appeared in The Biblical Repository and Quarterly Qlisei-vei 
for January, 1835. Vol V., pp. 1-32. It is entitled, "What form of I^w !;. best suited 
\o the individual and social nature of man ?" 
'•* Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson. 
^The article appeared in the New York Review for July, 1839. 



2o6 THE T.TFF, OF MRS. PRENTTSS. 

25M. T began yesterday Schleiermacher's " Christliche Glaube " — a 

profound, learned, and difficult work, I am told— Jouffroy's " Philosophical 
Writings," Landor's "Pericles and Aspasia," and "The Gurney Papers, 
Considering that 1 was already in the midst of several books, this is rather 
loo much, but I could not help it ; the books were lent me and must be 
read and returned speedily. I have been all the morning employed in writ- 
ing an abstract of the Report of the Prison Discipline Society, and am 
wearied and stupefied. 

Jan. -jth, 1840.— Went to Mr. Ripley's where I met Dr. Channing, and 
listened to a discussion of Spinoza's religious opinions. This afternoon Mr. 
D. came again ; talked about the Trinity and other theological points. This 
evening, heard Prof. Silliman. I have nearly finished Fichte, and like him 
on the whole exceedingly, though I think he errs in placing the roots of the 
speculative in the practical reason. It seems to me that neither grows out 
of the other, but that they are coincident spheres. Still, there is a truth, a 
great truth, in what he says. It is true that action is often the most effect- 
ual remedy against speculative doubts and perplexities. When you are in 
the dark about this or that point, ask what command does conscience im- 
pose upon me at this moment — obey it and you will find light. 

These extracts will suffice to show the quality and extent 
of her reading. What sort of fruit her reading and study 
bore may be seen by her articles on Claudius and Goethe, in 
the New York Review. No abler discussion of the genius 
and writings of Goethe had at that time appeared in this 
country; while the article on Claudius was probably the first 
to make him known to American readers. 

During many of the later years of her life Mrs. Hopkins 
was a martyr to ill-health. The story of her sufferings, both 
physical and mental, as artlessly told in little diaries which 
she kept, is *' wondrous pitiful ; " no pen of fiction couid equal 
its simple pathos. Again and again, as she herself knew, she 
was on the very verge of insanity; nothing, probably, saving 
her from it but the devotion of her husband, who with untir- 
ing patience and a mother's tenderness ministered, in season 
and out of season, to her relief. Often would he steal ho-me 
irom his beloved Observatory, where he had been teaching his 
students how to watch the stars, and pass a sleepless night at 
her bedside, reading to her and by all sorts of gentle appli- 
ances trjn'ng to soothe her irritated nerves. And this devotion 
ran on, without variableness or shadow of turning, year after 



THE STRUGGLE WITH ILL-1 1 EAl.TTI. 207 

>^ear, giving itself no rest until her eyes were closed in 
death.' 

Let us now resume our narrative. A portion of the sum- 
mer of 1862 was passed by Mrs. Prentiss at Newport. Her 
season of rest was again invaded by severe illness among hej 
children. Under date of August 3d, she writes to Mrs. 
Smith : 

I can see that our landlady, who has good sense and experi • 
ence, thinks G. will not get well. Sometimes, in awful mo- 
ments, I think so too ; but then I cheer up and get quite 
elated. Last night as I lay awake, too weary to sleep, I heard 
a harsh, rasping sound like a large saw. I thought some ani- 
mal unknown to me must be making it, it was so regular and 
frequent. But after a time I found it was a dying young sol- 
dier who lives farther from this house than Miss H. does from 
our house in New York. His fearful cough ! Oh, this war ! 
this war ! I never hated and revolted against it as I did then. 
I had heard some one say such a j^oung man lay dying of con- 
sumption in this street, but till then was too absorbed with my 
own incessant cares to hear the cough, as the rest had done. I 
never realised how I felt about our country till I found the ter- 
ror of losing a link out of that little golden chain that encir- 
cles my sweetest joys, was a kindred suffering. Have the times 
ever looked so black as they do now ? We seem to be drifting 
round without chart or pilot. 

Two weeks later, August 17th, she writes to her cousin, 
Miss Shipman : 

G. is really up and about, looking thin and white, and feel- 
ing hungry and weak ; but little H. has been sick with the same 
disease these ten days past. I got your letter and the little cat, 
for which G. and I thank you very much. I should tliinl: i( 
would about kill you to cook all day even for our soldiers, but 
on the whole can not blame any one who wants to get killed in 
tlieir service. I am impressed more and more with their claims 
upon us, who confront every danger and undergo every suffer- 

' Some passag:es from the little diaries referred to, together with further extracts froro 
her literary journal, will be found in appendix D, p. 5-11. 



208 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

ing, while we sit at home at our ease. However, the ease 1 
have enjoyed during the last live weeks has not been of a very 
luxurious kind, and I have felt almost discouraged, as day after 
day of confinement and night after night of sleeplessness has 
pulled down my strength. But, what am I doing,? Complain- 
ing, instead of rejoicing that I am not left unchastised. 

After a careworn summer at Newport, she went with the 
children to Williamstown, where a month was passed with her 
brother-in-law. Professor Hopkins. The following letters re- 
late to this visit : 

I am glad to find that you place reliance on the reports of 
our late victory, for I have been in great suspense, see- 
Husbajid, ing only The World, which was throwing up its hat and 
^^yjw}t"^' declaring the war virtually ended. I have no faith in 
Sept. 19, such premature assertions, of which we have had so 
many, but was most anxious to know your opinion. 
Do not fail to keep me informed of what is going on. The 
children are all out of doors and enjoying themselves. The 
Professor has gone on horseback to see about his buckwheat. 
He took me up there yesterday afternoon, and I crawled 
through forty fences (more or less) and got a vast amount of 
exercise, which did not result in any better sleep, however, than 
no exercise does. Caro. H. read me yesterday a most interest- 
ing letter from her brother Henry, describing the scene at Bull 
Run when he went there five days after the battle. It is very 
painful to find such mismanagement as he deplores. He gave 
a most touching account of a young fellow who lay mortally 
wounded, where he had lain uncared-for with his companions 
the five days, and whom they were obliged to decline removing, 
as they had only room for a portion of the hopeful cases. 
After beseeching Mr. H. to see that he was removed, and en- 
treating to know when and how he was ever to get home if 
they left him, he was told that it was not possible to make 
room for him in this train of ambulances. As Mr. H. tore him- 
seif away, he heard him say, 

" Here, Lorcl I give myself away ; 
'Tis all that I can do." 

The torture of the wounded men in the ambulances was sc 



THE STRUGGLE WITH ILL-HEALTH. 209 

frightful, that Mr. H. gave each of them morphine enough to kill 
three well men. They "cried for it like dogs and licked my 
hands lest they should lose a drop," he adds. As a contrast to 
this letter, some of the new recruits came into the Professor's 
grounds yesterday to get bouquets, and thought if their folks 
had a "yard" so gayly decked with flowers they would fee I 
set up. 

I have been feeling languid, or lazy, ever since I came here, 
To Mrs. ^"<^ fo^ a few days past have been miserable ; but I 
^ii<imsti!^^^ ^^"^'' to-day. This place is perfectly lovely and 
iiept. 25,' grows upon me every day. But the Professor is en- 
tirely absorbed in his loss. He does not know it, or 
else thinks he does not show it, for he makes no complaint, but 
it is in every tone and word and look. It is plain that Louisa's 
ill-health, which might have weaned a selfish man from her, 
only endeared her to him ; she was so entirely his object day 
and night, that he misses her and the care of her, as a mother 
does her sick child. If we ride out he says, "Here I often 
came with her ; " if a bird sings, " That is a note she used to 
love;" if we see a flower, "That is one of the flowers she 
loved." He has an astonishing amount of journal manuscripts, 

and I think may in time prepare something from them 

Isn't it frightful how cotton goods have run up ! I gave twenty 
cents for a yard of silicia (is that the way to spell it ?) and 
suppose everything else has rushed up too. I hope you are 
prepared to tell me exactly what to buy and instruct me in the 
way I should go. 

I spent yesterday forenoon looking over Louisa's papers and 
To her ^ound an enormous mass of manuscript; journals, 
ivlwanfs- ^^^^^^^ books, translations, and work enough planned 
ioivn, Sept. and begun for many lifetimes. It was very depress- 
ing. One's only refuge is faith in God, and in ilie 
ccriaiiity that her lingering illness was more acceptable to Him 
than years of active usefulness, and such extraordinary useful- 
ness even as she was so fitted for. I read over some of my own 
letters written many, many years ago ; and the sense this gave 
me of lost youth and vivacity and energy, was, for a time, must 

painful I have felt for a long while greatly discouraged 

14 



210 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

and depressed, yes, weary of my life, because it seems to me 
that broken down and worn out as I am, and full of faults 
tinder which I groan, being burdened, I could not make you 
happy. But your last letter comforted me a good deal. I see 
little^for us to do but what you suggest : to cheer each other 
up and wear out rather than rust out. It is more and more 
clear to me, that patience is our chief duty on earth, and that 
w^e can not rest here. 

I am anxious to know what you think of the President's 
Proclamation.' The Professor likes it. He seems able to think 
of little but his loss. Even when speaking in the most cheerful 
way, tears fill his eyes, and the other day putting a letter into 
my hands to read, he had to run out of the room. The letter 
stated that fifty young persons owed their conversion to Loui- 
sa's books ; it was written some years ago. His mother spent 
Saturday here. She is very bright and cheerful and full of sly 
humor ; he did everything to amuse her and she enjoyed her 
visit amazingly. I long to see you. Letters are more and 
more unsatisfactory, delusive things. M. is going to have a 
"party" this afternoon, and is going to one this forenoon. 
The others are bright and busy as bees. Good-bye. 

A tinge of sadness is perceptible in most of her letters 
during this year. Her sister's death, the fearful state of the 
country, protracted sickness among her children, and her own 
frequent ill-turns and increasing sense of feebleness, all con- 
spired to produce this effect. But in truth her heart was still 
as young as e\er and a touch of sympathy, or an appeal to 
her love of nature, instantly made it manifest. An extract 
ironi a letter to Miss Anna Warner, dated New York, Decem- 
ber i6th, may serve as an instance: 

I wanted to write a book when the trunk came this aflei- 
noon ; that is, a book full of thanks and exclamation marks. 
You could not have bought with money anything for my 
Christmas present, that could give half the pleasure. I shut 
myself up in my little room up-stairs (I declare I don't believe 
you saw that room! did you?), and there I spread out my 
mosses and my twigs and my cones and my leaves and admired 

J The Proclamation of Eiuancipation. 



THE STRUGGLE WITH TLL-IIEALTH. 21 l 

them till I had to go out and walk to compose myself. Then 
the children came home and they all admired too, and amon^ 
us we upset my big work-basket and my little work-basket, 
and didn't any of us care. My only fear is that with all yon 
had to do you did too much for me. Those little red moss 
Clips are too lovely ! and as to all those leaves how I shall leaf 
out ! G. asked me who sent me all those beaut." ful things. 
"Miss Warner," quoth I absently. "Didn't Miss Anna send 
any of them?" he exclaimed. So you see 3^ou twain do not 
pass as one ilesh here. I have read all the " Books of Blessing " ' 
save Gertrude and her Cat — but though I like them all very 
much, my favorite is still " The Prince in Disguise." If you 
come across a little book called "Ernest,"^ published by Ran- 
dolph, do read it. It is one of the few r^^z/ books and ought 
to do good. I have outdone myself in picture-frames since y(Hi 
left. I got a pair of nippers and some wire, which were of 
great use in the operation. I am now busy on Mr. Bull, toi 
Mr. Prentiss' study. 

To one of her sisters-in-law she wrote, under the same 
date : 

I do not know as I ever was so discouraged about my health 
as I have been this fall. Sometimes I think my constitution is 
quite broken down, and that I never shall be good for anything 
again. However, I do not worry one way or the other but try 
to be as patient as I can. I have been a good deal better for 
some days, and if you could see our house you would not be- 
lieve a word about my not being well, and would know my 
saying so was all a sham. To tell the truth, it does look like a 
garden, and when I am sick I like to lie and look at what I did 
when I wasn't ; my wreaths, and my crosses, and my vines, and 
my toadstools, and other fixins. Yesterday I made a bonnet 
of which I am justly proud ; to-morrow I expect to go int-j 
mosses and twigs, of which Miss Anna Warner has just sent 
me a lot. She and her sister were here about a fortnight. The> 
grow good so fast that there is no keeping track of them. 
Does any body in Portland take their paper ? ' The children are 
all looking forward to Christmas with great glee. It is a mercj 

* By Anna Warner. = py i,er friend, Mrs. Frederick G. Burnham. 

» "The Little CorooraJ " 



212 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

tliere are any children to keep up one's spirits in these times 
Was there ever anything so dreadful as the way in which oui 
army has just been driven back !♦' But if we had had a bril- 
liant victory perhaps the people would have clamored against 
the emancipation project, and anything is better than the per- 
petuation of slavery. 

Our congregation is fuller than ever, but there is no chance 
of building even a chapel. Shopping i^ pleasant business now- 
a-days, isn't it ? We shall have to stop sewing and use pins. 



II. 

Another care-worn Summer. Letters from Williamstown and Rockavay. Hymn on 
Laying the Corner-stone of the Church of the Covenant. 

The records of 1863 are confined mostly to her letters 
written during the summer. In June she went again with the 
younger children to Williamstown, where she remained a 
month. The family then proceeded to Rockaway, Long 
Island, and spent the rest of the season there in a cottage, 
kindly placed at their disposal by Mrs. William G. Bull. They 
passed through New York barely in time to escape the ter- 
rible riots, which raged there with such fury in the early part 
of July. A few extracts from her letters belonging to this 
period follow : 

I hope you'll not be frightened to get a letter mailed here ; 

anyhow I can't resist the temptation to write, though 

Jitishmd, standing up in a little newspaper office. We were 

'^'"'''^j'q^"'"' routed up at half past five this morning by pounds 

and yells about taking the " Northern Railroad." 

On leaching Troy the captain bid us hurry or we should 

iosc the train, and we did hurry, though I pretty well 

foresaw our fate, and after a running walk of a quarter 

of a mile, we had the felicity of finding the train had left 

' At Fredericksburg. 



THE STRUGGLE WI'l'lI 1 LI -1 1 KAl.TlI. 213 

and that the next one would not start till twelve. The 
.ittle darlings are bearing the disappointment sweetly. 

4 P.M. — After depositing my note in the Post-office, we 
strolled about awhile and then came across to a hotel, where I 
ordered a lunch-dinner. We got through at twelve and marched 
to the station, expecting to start at once, when M. came run- 
ning up to me declaring there was no train to Williamstowr 
till five o'clock. My heart fairly turned over ; however, I did 
not believe it, but on making inquiries it proved to be only too 
true. For a minute I sat in silent despair. Just then the land- 
lord of the hotel drew nigh and said to me, " You don't look 
very healthy, Mrs. ; if you'll walk over to my house, I will give 
you a bedroom free of charge and you can lie down and rest 
awhile." Over to his house we went, weary enough. After 
awhile, finding them all forlorn, I got a carriage and we drove 
out ; on coming back I ordered some ice-cream, which built us 
all up amazingly. The children are now counting the minutes 
till five. One of the boys is perched on a wash-stand with 
his feet dangling down through the hole where the bowl should 
l)e ; the other is eating crackers ; the landlord is anxious I 
should take a glass of wine ; and M. is everywhere at once, 
having nearly worn out my watch-pocket to see what time it 
was. 

Monday^ June 21st. — It is now going on a fortnight since we 
left home. Oh, if it were God's will, how I should love to get 
well, pay you back some of the debts I owe you, be a better 
mother to my children, write some more books, and make you 
love me so you wouldn't know what to do with yourself ! Just 
to see how it would seem to be well, and to show you what a 
splendid creature I could be, if once out of the harness ! A 
modest little list you will say !....! said to myself. Is it 
after all such a curse to suffer and to be a source of suffering to 
others ? Isn't it worth while to pay something for warm human 
sympathies and something for rich experience of God's love 
and wisdom ? And I felt, that for you to have a radiant, cheer- 
fu., health-happy wife was not, perhaps, so good for you, as a 
minister of Christ's gospel, as to have the poor feeble creature 
tvhose infirmities keep you anxious and ^^ the top of the wave. 

Saturday afternoon the Professor took me off strawberrying 
again. Can you believe that till this June I never went straw- 



214 '^^^^' ^^^^^^ ^^ ^^^^- TREXTTSS. 

berrying in my life ? I don't eat them, so the fun is in the pick- 
ing. Do you realise how kind the Professor is to me ? I am 
afraid I don't. He works very hard, too hard, I think ; but per- 
haps he does it as a refuge from his loneliness. His heart seems 
still full of tenderness toward Louisa. Yesterday he took me 
aside and told me, with much emotion, that he dreamed the 
night before that she floated towards him with a leaf in her 
hand, on which she wrote the words "Sabbath peacefulness.*' 
love him much, but am afraid of him, as I am of all men — 
even of you ; you need not laugh, I am. 

To Mrs. Smith she writes from Rockaway, July 24th : 

We were glad to hear that you were safely settled at Prout's 
Neck, far from riots, if not from rumors thereof. We have as 
convenient and roomy and closetty a cottage as possible. We 
are within three minutes or so of the beach, and go back and 
forth, bathe, dig sand, and stare at the ocean according to our 
various ages and tastes. I really do not know how else we 
spend our time. I sew a little, and am going to sew more when 
my machine comes ; read a little, doze a little, and eat a good 
deal. The butcher calls every morning, and so does the baker 
with excellent bread ; twice a week clams call at thirty cents 
the hundred ; we get milk, butter, and eggs without much 
trouble ; and ice and various vegetables without any, as Mrs. 
Bull sends them to us every day, with sprinklings of fruit, 
pitchers of cream, herring and whatever is going. We either 
sit on the beach looking and listening to the waves, every even- 
ing, or we run in to Mrs. Bull's ; or gather about our parlor- 
table reading. By ten we are all off to bed. George does 
nothing but race back and forth to New York on Seminary 
business ; he has gone now. I went with him the other day. 
The city looks pinched and wo-begone. We were caught in 
that tornado and nearly pulled to pieces. 

'2']th. — You will be sorry to hear that our last summer's 
siege with dysentery bids fair to be repeated. Yesterday, 
when the disease declared itself, I must own that for a few 
hours I felt about heart-broken. My own strength is next to 
nothing, and how to face such a calamity I knew not. Ah, how 
much easier it is to pray daily, "Oh, Jesus Christus, wachs in 



THE STRUGGLE WITH ILL-HEALTH. 21 5 

mir ! " than to consent to, yea rejoice in, the terms of the grant ! 
Well, George went for the doctor. His quarters at this season 
are right opposite ; he is a German and brother of the author 
Auerbach. We brought G.'s cot into our room and George 
and I took care of him till three o'clock, when for the first time 
since we had children, I gave out and left the poor man to get 
along as nurse as he best could. I can tell you it comes hard 
on one's pride to resign one's office to a half-sick husband. I 
think I have let the boys play too hard in the sun. I long to 
have you see this pretty cottage and this beach. 

^ug. Tyd. — The children are out of the doctor's hands and I 
do about nothing at all. I hope you are as lazy as I am. To- 
day I bathed, read the paper and finished John Halifax. I wish 
I could write such a book ! 

To Miss Gilman she writes, August loth : 

We have the nicest of cottages, near the sea. I often think 
of 3^ou as I sit watching the waves rush in and the bathers rush- 
ing out. I have not yet thanked you for the hymns you sent 
me. The traveller's hymn sounds like George Withers. Mr. P. 
borrowed a volume of his poems which delights us both. I am 
glad you are asking your mother questions about your father. 
I am amazed at myself for not asking my dear mother many 
a score about my father, which no human being can answer 
now. I do not like to think of you all leaving New York. 
Few families would be so missed and mourned. 

I can sympathise with you in regard to your present Sunday 
"privileges." We have a long walk in glaring sunshine, sit on 
bare boards, live through the whole (or nearly the whole) 
Prayer-book, and then listen, if we can, to a sermon three- 
quarters of an hour long, its length not being its chief fault. 1 
am utterly unable to bear such fatigue, and spend my time 
chiefly at home, with some hope of more profit, at any rate. 
How true it is that our Master's best treasures are kept in 
earthen vessels ! Humanly speaking, we should declare it to 
i>e for His glory to commit the preaching of His gospel to the 
best and wisest hands. But His ways are not as our ways. 
... I feel such a longing, when Sunday comes, to spend it 
with good people, under the guidance of a heaven-taught man. 
A minister has such wonderful opportunity for doing good ! It 



2l6 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

seems dreadful to see the opportunity more than wasted. The 
truth is, we all need, ministers and all, a closer walk with God. 
If a man comes down straight from the mount to speak tc 
those who have just come from the same place, he must be in 
a state to edify and they to be edified. 

From New York she writes to Miss Shipman, October 
24th : 

Your letter came just as we started for Poughkeepsie. The 
Synod met there and I was invited to accompany George, and, 
quite contrary to my usual habits, I went. We had a nice time. 
I feel that you are in the best place in the world. Next to dy- 
ing and going home one's self, it must be sweet to accompany 
a Christian friend down to the very banks of the river. Isn' 
it strange that after such experiences we can ever again have a 
worldly thought, or ever lose the sense of the reality of divine 
tilings ! But we are like little children — ever learning and ever 
forgetting. Still, it is well to be learning, and I envy you your 
frequent visits to the house of mourning. You will miss your 
dear friend very much. I know how you love her. How many 
beloved ones you have already lost for a season ! . . . , Don't 
set me to making brackets. I am as worldly now as I can be, 
and my head full of work on all sorts of things. I made two 
cornucopias of your pattern and filled them with grasses and 
autumn leaves, and they were magnificent. I got very large 
grasses in the Rockaway marshes. The children are all wel 
and as gay as larks. 

Early in November the corner-stone of the Church of the 
Covenant was laid. She wrote the following hymn for the 
occasion : 

A temple, Lord, we raise ; 
Let all its walls be praise 

To Thee alone. 
Draw nigh, O Christ, we pray 
To lead us on our way, 
And be Thou, now and aye. 
Our corner-stone. 

hi humble faith arrayed. 
We these foundations laid 
In war's dark day. 



THE STRUGGLE WITH TI,L-IIEAETH. 217 

Oppression's reign o'erthrown, 
Sweet peace once more our own. 
Do Thou the topmost stone 
Securely lay. 

And when each earth-built wall 
Crumbling to dust shall fall. 

Our work still own. 
Be to each faithful heart 
That here hath wrought its part. 
What in Thy Church Thou art — 

The Corner-stone. 



III. 



Happiness in her Children. The Summer of 1864. Letters from Hunter. Affliction 

among Friends. 

In the early part of 1864 she was more than usually af- 
flicted with neuralgic troubles and that " horrid calamity," as 
she calls it, sleeplessness. '' I know just how one feels when 
one can't eat or sleep or talk. I declare, a good deal of the 
time pulling words out of me is like pulling out teeth." 

Still (she writes to a sister-in-law, Jan. 15th), we are a 
happy family in spite of our ailments. I suffer a great deal and 
cause anxiety to my husband by it, but then I enjoy a great deal 
and so does he, and our younger children — to say nothing of A. — 
are sources of constant felicity. Do not you miss the hearing 
little feet pattering round the house ? It seems to me that the 
sound of my six little feet is the very pleasantest sound in tlie 
world. Often when I lie in bed racked with pain and ex- 
hausted from want of food — for my digestive organs seem par- 
alysed when I have neuralgia — hearing these little darlings 
about the house compensates for everything, and I am inex- 
pressibly happy in the mere sense of possession. I hate to 
have them grow up and to lose my pets, or exchange them for big 
boys and girls. I suppose your boys are a great help to you and 



2l8 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

company too, but I foel for you that you have not also a couple 

of girls Poor Louisa ! It is very painful to think whal 

she suffered. Her death was such a shock to me, I can hardly 
say why, that I have never been since what I was before. I 
suppose my nervous system was so shattered, that so unex- 
pected a blow would naturally work unkindly. 

Early in the following summer she was distressed by the 
sudden bereavement of dear friends and by the death of her 
nephew, who fell in one of the battles of the Wilderness. In 
a letter to Miss Oilman, dated June i8th, she refers to this : 

Your dear little flowers came in excellent condition, but at 
a moment when I could not possibly write to tell you so. The 
death of Mrs. R. H. broke my heart. I only knew her by a 
sort of instinct, but I sorrowed in her mother's sorrow and in 
that of her sisters. Death is a blessed thing to the one whom 
it leads to Christ's kingdom and presence, but oh, how terrible 
for those it leaves fainting and weeping behind ! We expect 
to go off for the summer on next Thursday. We go to Hun- 
ter, N. Y., in the region of the Catskills. My husband's 
mother has been with me during the last six weeks and has 
just gone home, and I have now to do up the last things in 
a great hurry. You may not know that my A and M. S., and 
a number of other young people of their age, joined our church 
on last Sunday. 1 can hardly realise my felicity. I seem to 
myself to have a new child. Your sister may have told you of 
the loss of Professor Hopkins' son. He was the first, grand- 
child in our family and his father's a//. We may never heai 
what his fate was, but the suspense has been dreadful. 

Her interest in the national struggle was intense and her 
conviction of its Providential character unwavering. To a 
friend, who seemed to her a little lukewarm on the subject, 
?]ie wrote at this time : 

For my part, I am sometimes afraid I shall die of joy if we 
iMcr gain a complete and final victory. You can call this spunk 
i( you choose. But my spunk has got a backbone of its own 
ivrl thai is deep-seated conviction, that this is a holy war, and 



THE STRUr.GLE WITH lEL-TTKATTTI. 2ig 

chat God himself sanctions it. He spares nothing precious 
when He has a work to do. No life is too valuable for Him to 
cut short, when any of His designs can be furthered by doing 
so. But I could talk a month and not have done, you wicked 
111. believer. 

This morning, after breakfast, I sallied out with six children 
To her ^^ ^^^ ^ iTiost charming walk, scramble, climb, etc. 
Husband, We put on our worst old duds, tuck up our skirts 
yunel-j, knee-high, and have a regular good time of it. If you 
^^^^' were awake so early as eight o'clock — I don't believe 
you were ! you might have seen us with a good spy-glass, and 
it would have made your righteous soul leap for joy to see how 
we capered and laughed, and what strawberries we picked, and 
how much of a child A. turned into. They all six " played 
run " till they had counted twelve and then they tumbled down 
and rolled in the grass, till I w^ondered what their bones were 
made of. I do not see that we could have found a better place 
for the children. What with the seven calves, the cows, the 
sheep, the two pet lambs, the dogs, hens, chickens, horses, etc., 
they are perfectly happy. Just now they have been to see the 
butter made and to get a drink of buttermilk. We have lots of 
strawberries and cream, pot-cheese. Johnny-cakes, and there 
are ahvays eggs and milk at our service. From diplomatic 
motives I advise you not to say too much about Hunter to peo- 
ple asking questions. It would entirely spoil its only great 
charm if a rush of silly city folks should scent it out. It is real- 
ly a primitive place and that you can say. Mr. Coe preached an 
excellent sermon on Sunday morning. 

I have just been off, all alone, foraging, and have come home 

;j^^,^ bringing my sheaves with me : ground pine and red 

Smii/i^ berries, with which I have made a beautiful wreath. 

7?//vT,' ^ have also adorned the picture of Gen. Grant with 

^^^^- festoons of evergreens, conjuring him the while not to 

disappoint our hopes, but to take Richmond. Alas ! you may 

know, by this time, that he can't ; but in lack of news since a 

week ago, I can but hope for the best. I've taken a pew and 

we contrive to squeeze into it in this wise : first a child, then a 

mother, then a child, then an Annie, then a child, the little ones 

beino- stowed in the cracks left between us big one.>. Mr 



220 THE IJFK OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

R., the parson, looking fit to go straight into his grave, was 
up here to get a wagon as he was going for a load of chips. 
His wife was at home sick, without any servant, had churned 
three hours and the butter wouldn't come, and has a pew full 
of little ones. Oh, my poor sisters in the ministry ! my heart 
aches for them, Mr. R. gave us a superior sermon last Sunday 
.... I know next to nothing about what is going on in the 
world. But George writes that he feels decidedly pleased with 
the look of things. He has been carrying on like all possessec 
since I left, having company to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 
finally went and had Chi Alpha all himself. 

July 2^th. — We went one day last week on a most delight- 
ful excursion, twenty-one of us in all. Our drive was splendid 
and the scenery sublime ; even we distinguished Swiss travel- 
lers thought so ! We came to one spot where ice always is 
found, cut out big pieces, ate it, drank it, threw it at each 
other and carried on with it generally. We had our dinner on 
the grass in the woods. We brought home a small cartload of 
natural brackets ; some of them beautiful. 

August isf. — You have indeed had a " rich experience." ' We 
all read your letter with the deepest interest and feel that it 
would have been good to be there. Your account of Caro 
shows what force of character she possessed, as well as what 
God's grace can do and do quickly. This is not the first time 
He has ripened a soul into full Christian maturity with almost 
miraculous rapidity. A veteran saint could not have laid down 
his armor and adjusted himself to meet death with more calm- 
ness than did this young disciple. I do not wonder her family 
were borne, for the time, above their sorrow, but alas ! their 
bitter pangs of anguish are yet to meet them. Her poor n: other ! 
How much she has suffered and has yet to suffer ! all the more 
because she bears it so heroically. 

You must have wondered why T did not answer your letter 
To Miss ^"^ y^^^ book, for both of which I thank you. Well, 
Emily s. it has been such dry, warm weather, that I have not 
Htoaer, f^lt like writing ; besides, for nurse I have only a little 
'^18^4.^* ^^^"^^^ gi^^ fourteen years old, who never was out of 
New York before, and whom I have been so determined 

' Referring to tlic sudden death of a young niece of Mrs. S. 



THE STRUOGl.l-: Wrill ILL-HEALTH. 221 

on spoiling that I couldn't bear to take her off from her play to 
mend, patch, darn, wash faces, necks, feet, etc., and unconsci- 
ously did every thing there was to do for the children and a 
little more besides. I like <he little book very much. You 
have the greatest knack, you girls, of lighting on nice books 
and nice hymns. We are right in the midst of most charming 
walks. Here is a grove and there is a brook ; here is a creeV, 
almost a river (big enough at any rate to get on to the map) 
and there a mountain. As to ferns and mosses for your poeti- 
cal side, and as for raspberries and blackberries for your 
t'other side, time would fail me if I should begin to speak oi 
them. I think a great deal of you and your sisters when ofl 
on foraging expeditions, and wish you were here notwithstand- 
ing you are mossy and ferny there. We have as yet made 
only one excursion. That was delightful and gave us our first 
true idea o: the Catskills. Before Mr. P. came I usually went 
off on my forenoon walk alone, unless the children trooped 
after, and came home a miniature Birnam wood, with all sorts 
of things except creeping things and flying fowl. 

I have just finished reading to M. and a little girl near her 
age, a little French book you would like, called " Augustin." 
I never met with a sweeter picture of a loving child anywhere. 
Well, I may as well stop writing. Remember me lovine:lv to 
all your dear household. 

To Mrs. Stearns she writes, Sept. i6: 

How mucii faith and patience we poor invalids do need ! 
The burden of life sits hard on our weary shoulders. I think 
the mountain air has agreed with our children better than the 
easide has done, but George craves the ocean and the bathing. 
He spent this forenoon, as he has a good many others, in climb- 
ing the side of the mountain for exercise, views, and blackber- 
ries I go with him sometimes. We had a few days' visit from 
Prof. Hopkins. He has heard confirmation of the rumors of 
poor Eddy's death and burial. He means to go to Ashland as 
soon as the state .)f the country makes it practicable, but 
has little hope of identifying E.'s remains. It is a great sor- 
row to him to lose all he had in this horrible way, but he bears 
it with wunderful faith and patience, and says he never prayed 



222 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

for his son's life after he went into action. Some letters 
received by him, give a pleasant idea of the Christian stand E. 

took after entering the army. I believe this is Lizzie P 's 

wedding day. There is a beautiful rainbow smiling on it from 
our mountain home, and I hope a real one is glorifying hers. 

Oh, I wish you were here on this glorious day ! The foliage 
has begun to turn a little, and the mountains are in 
Ci/man, a State bordering on perfection. It is wicked for me 
Sei)TZ' ^^ ^^^y in-doors even to write this, but it seems as if a 
letter from here would carry with it a savor of moun- 
tain air, and must do you more good than one from the city 
could. I wish I had thought sooner to ask you if you would 
like some of our mosses. I thought I had seen mosses before 
but found I had not. I w411 enclose some dried specimens, j 
thought, while I was in the woods this morning, that I never 
had thanked God half enough for making these lovely things 
and giving us tastes wherewith to enjoy them. 

You ask if I have spilled ink all down the side of this white 
house. Yes, I have, wo be unto me. I was sick abed and got 
up to write to Mr. P., not wanting him to know I was sick, and 
one of the children came in and I snatched him up in my lap 
to hug and kiss a little, and he, of course, hit the pen and 
upset the inkstand and burst out crying at my dismay. Then 
might have been seen a headachy woman catching the apo- 
plexy by leaning out of the window and scrubbing paint, sacri- 
ficing all her nice rags in the process, and dreadfully mortified 

into the bargain Yesterday we were all caught in a 

pouring rain when several miles from home on the side of the 
mountain, blackberry ing. We each took a child and came 
rolling and tearing down through the bushes and over stones, 
II. 's little legs flying as little legs rarely fly. We nearly died 
with laughing, and if 1 only knew how to draw, I could make 
you laugh by giving you a picture of the scene. You will judge 
^rom this that we are all great walkers ; so we are. I take the 
children almost everywhere, and they walk miles every day„ 
VV^ell, I will go now and get you some scraps of pressed mosses 



THE STRUGGLE WITH H.L-HEALTH. 223 



IV. 

["he Death of President Lincoln. Dedication of the Church of the Covenant, (irow- 
ing Insomnia. Resolves to try the Water-cure. Its beneficial Effects. Summer at 
Newburgh. Reminiscence of an Excursion to Paltz Point. Death of her HusbamJ » 
Mother. Funeral of her Nephew, Edward Payson Hopkins. 

Two events rendered the month of April, 1865, especially 
memorable to Mrs. Prentiss. One was the assassination of 
President Lincoln on the evening of Good Friday. She had 
been very ill, and her husband, on learning the dreadful news 
from the morning paper, thought it advisable to keep it from her 
for a while; but one of the children, going into her chamber, 
burst into tears and thus betrayed the secret. Her state of nerv- 
ous prostration and her profound, affectionate admiration for 
Mr. Lincoln, made the blow the most stunning by far she ever 
received from any public calamity. It was such, no doubt, to 
tens of thousands ; indeed, to the American people. No 
Easter morning ever before dawned upon them amid such a 
cloud of horror, or found them so bowed down with grief. 
The younger generation can hardly conceive of the depth and 
intensity, or the strange, unnatural character, of the impression 
made upon the minds of old and young alike, by this most 
foul murder.' 

The other event was of a very different character and filled 
her with great joy. It was the dedication, on the last Sunday 
in April, of the new church edifice, whose growth she had 
watched with so much interest. 

In the spring of 1865 she was induced, by the entreaty of 
friends who had themselves tested his skill, to consult Dr. 
Schieferdecker, a noted hydropathist, and later to place her- 
self under his care. In a letter to her cousin, Miss Shipn\an, 
she writes : *' I want to tell you, but do not want you to men- 
tion it to anyone, that I have been to see Dr. Schieferdecker 
to know what he thought of my case. He says that I might 
go on dieting to the end of my days and not get well, but 
that his system could and would cure me, only it would take 

' This was written before the assajssinatiun of President (iarfieid. 



224 Tlih LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

a lon^^ time. I have not decided whether to try his process 
but have no doubt he understands my disease." Dr. Schiefer- 
decker had been a pupil and was an enthusiastic disciple of 
Priesnitz. He had unbounded faith in the healing proper- 
ties of water. He w^LS very impulsive, opinionated, self-con- 
fident, and accustomed to speak contemptuously of the old 
medical science and those who practised it. But for all that, 
he possessed a remarkable sagacity in the diagnosis and treat- 
ment of chronic disease. Mrs. Prentiss went through the 
'' cure " with indomitable patience and pluck, and was reward- 
ed by the most beneficial results. Her sleeplessness had 
become too deep-rooted to be overcome, but it was greatly 
mitigated and her general condition vastly improved. She 
never ceased to feel very grateful to Dr. Schieferdecker for 
the relief he had afforded her, and for teaching her how to 
manage herself; for after passing from under his care, she still 
continued to follow his directions. " No tongue can tell how 
much I am indebted to him," she wrote in 1869. " I am like 
a ship that after poking along twenty years with a heavy load 
on board, at last gets into port, unloads, and springs to the 
surface." 

It is said to be an ill wind that blows nobody good, and as 
I am still idling about, doing absolutely nothing but 

Tu Miss E. . ... 1 • X 1 1 • 1-1 

S. Cihnan, reccive visits from neuralgia, I have leisure to think 

/S^23iS65.^^ P^^^ ^'^^'^^ • I wrote to ask her if there was 

anything she wanted and could not get in her region ; 
yesterday I received her letter, in which she mentions a book, 
but says "anything that is useful for body or mind" would be 
gratefully received. Now I got the impression from that ar- 
ticle in the Independent, that she could take next to no nourish- 
ment. Do you know what she docs take, and can you suggest, 
from what you know, anything she would like ? What's the 
use of my being sick, if it isn't for her sake or that of some 
other suffering soul ? I want, very much, to get some things 
together and send her ; nobody knows who hasn't experienced 
it, how delightfully such things break in on the monotony of 
a sick-room. Just yet I am not strong enough to do anything ; 
my hands tremble so that I can hardly use even a pen ; yet you 



THE STRUGGLE Wl'iU ILL-liEAL 1 11. 22$ 

need not think I am much amiss, for I go out every pleasant 
day, to ride, and some days can take quite a walk. The trouble 
is that when the pain returns, as it does several times a day, it 
knocks my strength out of me. I hope when all parts of my 
f I Time have been visited by this erratic sprite, it may find it 
wortl; while to beat a retreat. Only to think, we are going to 
move to No. 70 East Twenty-seventh street, and you have all 
been and gone away ! The rent is enormous, $1,000 having been 
just added to an already high price. Our people have taken 
that matter in hand and no burden of it will come on us. I 
received your letter and am much obliged to you for writing 

to Miss , for me ; the reason I did not do it was, that it 

seemed like hurrying her up to thank me for the little drop of 
comfort I sent her. Dear me ! it's hard to be sick when people 
send you quails and jellies, and fresh eggs, and all such things 
— but to be sick and suffer for necessaries must be terrible. 

I thank you for the details of Miss 's case, as I wished 

to describe them to some friends. I sent her ten dol- 
7r/^^*?ri!'lars yesterday for two of my friends. I also sent off 
March 9, ^ ^QQ^ ^y express, for the contents of which I had help. 
The things were such as I had persuaded her to men- 
tion ; a new kind of farina, figs, two portfolios (of course she 
didn't ask for two, but I had one I thought she would, perhaps, 
like better than the one I bought), a few crackers, and several 
books. Mr. P. added one of those beautiful large-print editions 
of the Psalms which will, I think, be a comfort to her. I shall 
also send Adelaide Newton by-and-by ; I thought she had her 
hands full of reading for the present, and the great thing is 
not to heap comforts on her all at once and then leave her to 
her fate, but keep up a stream of such little alleviations as can 
be provided. She said, she had poor accommodations for writ- 
ing, so I greatly enjoyed fitting up the portfolio which was 
none the worse for wear, with paper and envelopes, a pencil 
with rubber at the end, a cunning little knife, some stamps, for 
which there was a small box, a few pens, etc. I know it will 
please you to hear of this, and as the money was furnisht^d me 
for the purpose, you need not set it down to my credit. 

I meant to go to see your sister, but my head is still in such 
a weak state that though I go to walk nearly every day, I can 
^5 



226 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

not make calls. It is five weeks since I went to church, for the 
same reason. It is a part of God's discipline with me to keep 
me shut up a good deal more than the old Adam in me fancies ; 
but His way is absolutely perfect, and I hope I wouldn't change 
it in any particular, if I could. Have you Pusey's tract, " Do 
all to the Lord Jesus"? If not, I must send it to you. It 
seems as if I had a lot of things I wanted to say, but after 
writing a little my hands and arms begin to tremble so that I 
can hardly write plainly. You never saw such a lazy life as I 
lead now-a-days ; I can't do any thing. I advise you to do 
what you have to do for Christ noiu j by the time you are as 
old as I am perhaps you will have the will and not the power. 
Well, good-bye till next time. 

The summer of this year was passed at Newburgh in com 
pany with the Misses Butler — now Mrs. Kirkbride, of Phiki- 
delphia, and Mrs. Booth, of Liverpool — and the families of 
Mr. William Allen Butler, Mr. B. F. Butler, and Mr. John P. 
Crosby, to all of whom Mrs. Prentiss was strongly attached. 
The late Mr. Daniel Lord, the eminent lawyer, with a portion 
of his family, had also a cottage near by and was full of hos- 
pitable kindness. In spite of the exacting hydropathic treat- 
ment, she found constant refreshment and delight in the 
society of so many dear friends. "The only thing I have to 
complain of " she wrote, '' is ever}^body being too good to me. 
How different it is being among friends to being among 
strangers ! " 

In a letter to her husband, dated New York, Sept. 15, 1879, 
Mr. William Allen Butler gives the following reminiscence of 
an excursion to Paltz Point and an evening at Newburgh : 

From the date you give in your note (to which I have just recurred) of 
our trip to Paltz Point, it seems that in writing you to-day I have unwit- 
tingly fallen on the anniversary of that pleasant excursion. Without this 
reminder I could not have told the day or the year, but of the excursion it- 
self I have always had a vivid and delightful recollection ; and, if I am not 
mistaken, Mrs. Prentiss enjoyed it as fully as any one of the merry party. 
It was only on that jaunt and in our summer home at Newburgh that I had 
the opportunity of knowing her readiness to enter into that kind of enjoy- 
ment, which depends upon the co-operation of every member of a circle foi 
the entertainment of all. The elements of our j^roup were well commingled. 



THE STRUGGLE WITH FLE-HEALTH. 



227 



and the bright things evoked by their contact and friction were neither few 
nor far between. The game to which you allude of " Inspiration " or 
" Rhapsody " was a favorite. The evening at Paltz Point called out some 
clever sallies, of which I have no record or special recollection ; but I know 
that then, as aEvays, Mrs. Prentiss seemed to have at her pencil's point for 
instant use the wit and fancy so charmingly exhibited in her writings. She 
published somewhere an account of one of our inspired or rhapsodical even 
ings, but greatly to my regret failed to include in it her own contribution wb.ich 
was the best of all. I distinctly remember the time and scene — the September 
evening — the big, square sitting-room of the old Seminary building in which 
you boarded — the bright faces whose radiance made up in part for the limita- 
tions of artificial light — the puzzled air which every one took on when presented 
with the list of unmanageable words, to be reproduced in their consecutive or- 
der in prose or verse composition within the next quarter or half hour — the 
stillness which supervened while the enforced " pleasures " of " poetic pains " 
or prose agony were being undergone — the sense of relief which supplemented 
the completion of the batch of extempore effusions — and the fun which their 
reading provoked. Mrs. Prentiss had contrived out of the odd and incohe- 
rent jumble of words a choice bit of poetic humor and pathos, which I nevei 
(|uite forgave her for omitting in the publication of the nonsense written by 
other hands. These trifles as they seemed at the time, and as in fact they 
were, become less insignificant in the retrospect, as we associate them with 
the whole character and being we instinctively love to place at the farthest 
remove from gloom or sadness, and as they rediscover to us in the distance 
the native vivacity and grace of which they were the chance expression. 
Since that summer of 1865, having lived away from New York, I saw little 
of Mrs. Prentiss, but I have a special remembrance of one little visit you 
made at our home in Yonkers which she seemed very much to enjoy —say- 
ing of the reunion which made it so pleasant to the members of our family 
and all who happened to be together at the time, that it was "like 
heaven." ' 

During the summer of 1865 the sympathies of Mrs. Treii- 
tiss were much wrought upon by the sickness and death of her 
husband's mother, who entered into rest on the 9th of August, 
in the eighty-fourth year of her age. On the 12th of the 
[>revious January, she with the whole family had gone to New- 
ark to celebrate the eighty-third birthday of this aged saint. 
Had they known it was to be the last, they could have wished 
nothing changed. It was a perfect winter's day, and the scene 
in the old parsonage was perfect too. There, surrounded by 

' The " Rhapsody," referred to by Mr. Butler was presci-ved by a young lady of iht 
party, and will be found in appendix E, p. 535. 



228 THE LIl'K OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

children and children's children, sat the venerable grand, 
mother with a benignant smile upon her face and the peace 
of God in her heart. As she received in birthday gifts and 
kisses and congratulations their loving homage, the measure 
of her joy v/as full, and she seemed ready to say her Nunc 
diiiuitis. She belonged to the number of those holy women 
of the old time who trusted in God and adorned themselves 
with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, and whose 
children to the latest generation rise up and call them blessed. 

In the course of this year her sympathies were also deeply 
touched by repeated visits from her brother-in-law. Professor 
Hopkins, on his way to and from Virginia. Allusion has been 
made already to the death of her nephew. Lieutenant Edward 
Payson Hopkins. He was killed in battle while gallantly 
leading a cavalry charge at Ashland, in Virginia, on the nth of 
May, 1864. In June of the following year his father went to 
Ashland with the hope of recovering the body. Five com- 
rades had fallen with Edward, and the negroes had buried 
them without coffins, side by side, in two trenches in a deso- 
late swampy field and under a very shallow covering of earth. 
The place was readily discovered, but it w^as found impossible 
to identify the body. The disappointed father, almost broken- 
hearted, turned his weary steps homeward. When he reached 
Williamstown his friends said, '' He has grown ten years older 
since he went away." 

Several months later he learned that there were means of 
identification which could not fail, even if the body had al- 
ready turned to dust. Accordingly he again visited Ashland, 
attended this time by soldiers, a surgeon, and Government 
officials. His search proved successful, and, to his joy, not 
only was the body identified, but, owing to the swampy nat- 
jire of the ground, it was found to be in an almost complete 
state of preservation. There was something wonderfully im- 
pressive ii. the grave aspect and calm, gentle tone of the ven- 
erable man, as with his precious charge he passed through 
New York on his way home. In a letter to Mrs. Prentiss, 
dated January 2d, 1866, he himself tells the story of the re-in- 
terment at Williamstown : 



THE STRUGGI.E WITH ILL-HEALTH. 



229 



.... After stojjping a minute at my door the wagon passed at once tc 
uh^ cemetery, and the remains were deposited in the tomb. This was on 
Thursday. After consulting with my brother and his son (the chaplain) 1 
determined to wait till the Sabbath before the interment. Accordingly, at 
3 o'clock — after the afternoon service — the remains of my dear boy were 
placed beside those of his mother. The services were simple, but solemn 
in a high degree. They were opened by an address from Harry. Prayer 
followed by Rev. Mr. Noble, now supplying the desk here. He prefaced 
his prayer by saying that he never saw Edward but once, when he preached 
at Williamstown at a communion and saw him sitting beside me and par- 
taking with me. Singing then followed by the choir of which Eddy was 
for a long time a member. The words were those striking lines of Mont- 
gomery' : 

Go to the grave in all thy glorious prime, etc. 

After which the co'^m was lowered to its place by young men who were 
friends of Edward in his earlier years. 

The state of the elements was exceedingly favorable to the holding of 
such an exercise in the open air at a season generally so inclement. The 
night before there was ever}' appearance of a heavy N. E. storm. But 
Sabbath morning it was calm. As I went to church I noticed that the sun 
rested on the Vermont mountains just north of us, though with a mellowed 
light as if a veil had been thrown over them. In the after part of the day 
the open sky had spread southward — so that the interment took place when 
the air was as mild and serene as spring, just as the last sun of the year 
was sinking towards the mountains. Almost the entire congregation were 

present Thus, dear sister, I have given you a brief account of the 

solemn but peaceful winding up of what has been to me a sharp and long 
trial, and I know to yourself and family also. In eternity we shall more 
clearly read the lesson which even now, in the light of opening scenes, w€ 
are beginning to interpret. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE pastor's wife AND DAUGHTER OF CONSOLATION. 

1866-1868. 

I. 

Happiness as a Pastor's Wife. Visits to Newport and WiIliamsto^vn. Letters. Th€ 
great Portland Fire. First Summer at Dorset. The new Parsonage occupied. 
Second Summer at Dorset. Little Lou's Sayings and Doings. Project of a Cot- 
tage. Letters. The Little Preacher. Illness and Death of Mrs. Edward Paysoc 
and of Little Francis. 

We now enter upon the most interesting and happiest 
period of Mrs. Prentiss's experience as a pastor's wife. The 
congregation of the Church of the Covenant had been slowly 
forming in " troublous times " ; it was composed of congenial 
elements, being of one heart and one mind ; some of the 
most cultivated families and family-circles in New York 
belonged to it; and Mrs. Prentiss was much beloved in 
them all. What a help-meet she was to her husband and 
with what zeal and delight she fulfilled her ofifice, especially 
that of a daughter of consolation, among his people, will soon 
appear. 

How ignorant we often are, at the time, of the turning- 
points in our life ! We inquire for a summer boarding-place 
and decide upon it without any thought beyond the few 
weeks for which it was engaged ; and yet, perhaps, our whole 
earthly future or that of those most dear to us, is to be vitally 
affected by this seemingly trifling decision. So it happened 
to Mrs. Prentiss in 1866. Early in ]\Iay her husband and his 
brother-in-law. Dr. Stearns, went, at a venture, to Dorset, Vt. 
and there secured rooms for their families during the sum 
(230) 



THE pastor's wife. 23 1 

men But little did either she, or they, dream that Dorset was 
to be henceforth her summer home and her resting-place in 
death ! ' 

The Portland fire, to which reference is made in the fol- 
lowing letters, occurred on the 4th of July, and consumed a 
large portion of the city. 

Never in my life did I live through such a spring and early 
^ ,,. summer as this ! As to business and bustle, I mean. 

To Miss 

Mary B. You must have given me up as a lost case ! But I 
Dorfei^ylay^^'^Q thought of you every day and longed to hear 

25, 1866. j^Q^^^ y^^ were getting on, and whether you lived 
throuo-h that dreadful weather. Annie went with the children 
to Williamstown about the middle of June ; I nearly killed 
myself with getting them ready to go and could see the flesh 
drop off my bones. George and I went to Newport on what 
Mrs. Bronson called our "bridal trip," and stayed eleven days. 
Mr. and Mrs. McCurdy were kindness personified. We came 
home and preached on the first Sunday in July, and then went 
to Greenfield Hill to spend the Fourth with Mrs. Bronson.' 
That nearly finished me, and then I went to Williamstown on 
that hot Friday and was quite finished on reaching there, to 
hear about the fire in Portland. Did you ever hear of anything 
so dreadful ? I did not know for several days but H. and C. 
were burnt out of house and home ; most of my other friends 

> Dorset is situated in Bennington county, about sixt}-- miles from Troy and twenty- 
five miles from Rutland. Its eastern portion lies in a deep-cut valley alonj: tlie western 
slope of the Green Mountain range, on the line of the Bennington and Rutland rail- 
road. Its western part— the valley in which Mrs. Prentiss passed her summers— is sepa- 
rated from East Dorset by Mt. Aeolus, Owl's Head, and a succession of maple<rcsted 
hills, all belonging to the Taconic system of rocks, which contains the rich marble, -late, 
and limestone quarries of Western Vermont. In the north this range sweeps round to- 
ward the Equinox range, enclosing the beautiful and fertile upland region called The 
Hollow. Dorset belonged to the so-called New Hampshire Grants, and was organised 
into a to\s-nship shortly before the Revolutionary War. Its first settlers were largely 
from Connecticut and Massachusetts. They were a hardy, intelligent, liberty-loving 
race, and impressed upon the town a moral and religious character, which lemains to this 
day. 

2 Mrs. Arthur Bronson, of New York. A life of Mrs. Prentiss would scarcely be com- 
plete without a grateful mention of this devoted friend and true Christian lady. She was 
the centre of a wide family circle, to all of whose members, both young and old, she was 
greatly endeared by the beauty and excellence of her character. She died shortly aftei 
Wn. EVentiss. 



232 THE TJFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

I knew were, and can there be any calamity like being left 

naked, hungry and homeless, everything gone forever 

But let no one say a word that has a roof over his head. All 
my father's sermons were burned, the house where most of ui 
were born, his church, etc. Fancy New Haven stripped of its 
shade-trees, and you can form some idea of the loss of Port- 
land in that respect. Well, I might go on talking forever, and 
not have said anything.' The heat upset G. and we have been 
fighting off sickness for a week, I getting wild with loss ot 
sleep. We are enchanted with Dorset. We are so near the 
woods and mountains that we go every day and spend hours 
wandering about among them. If there is any difference, I 
think this place even more beautiful than Williamstown ; it 
suits us better as a summer retreat, from its great seclusion. 
I am, that is we are, mean enough to want to keep it as quiet 
and secluded as it is now, by not letting people know how nice 
it is ; a very few fashionably dressed people would just spoil 
it for us. So keep our counsel, you dear child. 

A few days later she writes to Mrs. Smith, then in Europe : 

On the sixth, a day of fearful heat, I went to Williamstown, 
where I found all the children as well as possible, but heard 
the news of the Portland fire which almost killed me. All my 
father's manuscripts are destroyed ; we always meant to divide 
them among us and ought to have done it long ago. I heard 
of any number of injudicious babies as taking the inopportune 
day succeeding the fire to enter on the scene of desolation ; 
all born in tents. I am sorry my children will never see 
my father's church, nor the house where I was born ; but 
private griefs are nothing when compared with a calamity that 
is so appalling and that must send many a heart homeless and 
aching to the grave. I spent two weeks at Williamstown, when 
George came for me, and the wxather cooling off, we had a 
comfortable journey here. We are perfectly delighted with 
Dorset ; the sweet seclusion is most soothing, and the house is 

• While supposing that her brothers had been burnt out and had, perhaps, lost every- 
thing, she wrote to her husband with characteristic generosity: "If they did not kill 
themselves working at the fire, they will kill themselves trying to get on their feet again. 
Eveiy cent I have I think should be given them. My father's church and everything a» 
iociated witli my youth, gone forever ! I can't think of anything else." 



tup: pastors wife. 233 

very pleasant. Mr. and Mrs. F. are intelligent, agreeable peo- 
ple, and do all they can to make us comfortable. The mount- 
ains are so near that I hear the crows cawing in the trees. We 
are making pretty things and pressing an unheard-of quanliL) 
of ferns. We go to the woods regularly every morning antl 
stay the whole forenoon. In the afternoon we rest, read, write, 
etc. ; sometimes we drive and always after tea George walks 
with me about two miles. I hope the war is not impeding 
your movements. I suppose you will call this a short letter, 
but I think it is as long as is good for you. All my dear nine 
pounds gained at Newburgh have gone by the board. Ai/^/zsi 
20th. — I am sorry you had such hot weather in Paris, but hope 
it passed off as our heat did. Dr. Hamlin's two youngest 
daughters have been here, and came to see me ; they are both 
interesting girls, and the elder of the two really brilliant. 
They had never been here before, and were carried away with 
the beauties of their mother's birthplace. I wish you could 
see my room. Every pretty thing grows here and has come to 
cheer and beautify it. The woods are everywhere, and as for 
the views, oh my child ! However, I do not suppose anything 
short of Mt. Blanc will suit you now. 

In April, 1867, the parsonage on Thirty-fifth street was 
occupied. It had been built more especially for her sake, and 
was furnished by the generosity of her friends. Pier joy in 
entering it was completed by a '' house-warming," at the close 
of which a passage of Scripture was read by Prof. Smith, 
"All hail the power of Jcsus's name" sung, and then the 
blessing of Heaven invoked upon the new home by that holy 
man of God, Dr. Thomas H. Skinner. Here she passed the 
next six years of her life. Here she wrote the larger portion . .f 
" Stepping Heavenward." And here the cup of her domestic 
joy, and of joy in her God and Saviour often ran o\ cr. Here, 
too, some of her dearest Christian friendships were formed 
and enjoyed. 

The summer of 1867 was passed at Dorset. In less tlian 
a month of it she wrote one of her best children's books, Lit- 
tle Lous Sayingis and Doings ; and much of the remainder was 
spent in discussing with her husband the project of building 



234 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

a cottage of their own. In a letter to her cousin, Miss Ship- 
man, dated Sept. 21, she .vrites : 

We have had our heads full all summer, of building a little 
cottage here. We are having a plan made, and have about 
fixed on a lot. We are rather tired of boarding ; George hates 
It, and Dorset suits us as well, I presume, as any village would. 
It is a lovely spot, and the people are as intelligent as in other 
parts of New England. The Professor is disappointed at our 
choosing this rather than Williamstown, but it would be no 
rest to us to go there. We have not decided to build ; it may 
turn out too expensive ; but we have taken lots of comfort in 
talking about it. We have been on several excursions, one of 
them to the top of Equinox. It is a hard trip, fully six 
miles walking and climbing. I have amused myself with writ- 
ing some little books of the Susy sort : four in less than a 
month, A.'s sickness taking a good piece of time out of that 
period. They are to appear, or a part of them, in the River- 
side next winter, and then to be issued in book-form b}^ Hurd 
and Houghton. This will a good deal more than furnish our 
cottage and what trees and shrubs we want, so that I feel justi- 
fied in undertaking that expense. We had two weeks at New- 
port before we came here, and Mr. and Mrs. McCurdy over- 
whelmed us with kindness, paying our traveling expenses, etc., 
and keeping up one stead}^ stream of such favors the whole 
time. I never saw such people. How delightful it must be to 
be able to express such benevolence ! Well ; you and I can be 
faithful in that which is least, at any rate. 

We have all had plenty to read all summer, and have sat out 
of doors and read a good deal. I am going now to carry a lit- 
tle wreatli to a missionary's wrfe who is spending the summer 
here ; a nice little woman ; this will give me a three miles walk 
and about use up the rest of the forenoon. In the afternoon I 
have promised to go to the woods with the children, all of 
whom are as brown as Indians. My room is all aflame with 
two great trees of maple ; I never saw such a beautiful velvety 
color as they have. We have just had a very pleasant excur- 
sion to a mountain called Haystack, and ate our dinner sitting 

round in the grass in view of a splendid prospect I have 

thus given you the history of our summer, as far as its history 



THE PASTORS WIFE. 235 

can be written. Its ecstatic joys have not been vvanling, noi 
its hours of shame and confusion of face ; but these are things 
that can not be described. What a mystery life is, and liou* 
we go up and down, glad to-day and sorrowful to-morrow ! } 
took real solid comfort thinking of you and praying for yni) 
this morning. I love you dearly and always shall. Good-bye, 
dear child. 

The *'f<)iir little books" afford a good illustration of the 
ease and rai)idity with which she composed. Wlicn once she 
had fixed upon a subject, her pen almost flew over the paper. 
Scarcely ever did she hesitate for a thought or for the right 
words to express it. Her manuscript rarely showed an eras- 
ure or any change whatever. She generally wrote on a port- 
folio, holding it upon her knees. Her pen seemed to be a \(,t- 
itable part of herself; and the instant it began to mo\e, licr 
face glowed with eager and pleasurable feeling. '* A kitten 
(she wrote to a maiden friend) a kitten without a tail to play 
with, a mariner without a compass, a bird without wings, a 
woman without a husband (and fifty-five at that I) furnish 
faint images of the desolation of my heart without a pen." 
But although she wrote very fast, she never began to write 
v/ithout careful study and premeditation when her subject re- 
quired it. 

About this time 77ie Little Preacher appeared. The scene 
of the story is laid in the Black Forest. Before writing 
it she spent a good deal of time in the Astor Library, read- 
ing about peasant life in Germany. In a letter from a literary 
friend this little work is thus referred to: 

I want to tell you what a German gentleman said to me the other day 
about your " Little Preacher." He was talking with me of German peas- 
ant life, and inquired if I had read y.:ur charming story. He was delighted 
to find I knew you, and exclaimed enthusiastically: "I wish 1 knew her ! I 
would so like to thank her for her perfect picture. It is a miracle ol 
genius," he added, " to be able thus to portray the life of a foriii:ti peo- 
ple." He is very intelligent, and so 1 know you will be pleased with \\\z 
appreciation of your book. He said if he were not so poor, he would buy 
a whole edition of the " Little Preacher " to give to his friends. 

During the autumn of this year her sister-in-law, Mrs. Ed 



236 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

ward Payson, died after a lingering, painful illness. The fcl 
lowing letter, dated October 28, was written to her shortly be 
fore her departure: 

1 have been so engrossed with sympathy for Edward and 
your children, that I have but just begun to realise that you are 
about entering on a state of felicity which ought, for the time, 
to make me forget them. Dear Nelly, T congratulate yon with ah 
viy heart. Do not let the thought of what those who love you 
must suffer in your loss, diminish the peace and joy with which 
God now calls you to think only of Himself and the home He 
has prepared for 3^ou. Try to leave them to His kind, tender 
care. He loves them better than you do ; He can be to them 
more than 3"0u have been ; He will hear your prayers and all 
the prayers offered for them, and as one whom his mother 
comforteth, so will He comfort them. We, who shall be left 
here without you, can not conceive the joys on which you are 
to enter, but we know enough to go with you to the very gates 
of the city, longing to enter in with you to go no more out. 
All your tears will soon be wiped away ; you will see the King 
in His beauty ; you will see Christ your Redeemer and realise 
all He is and all He has done for you ; and how many saints 
whom you have loved on earth will be standing ready to seize 
you by the hand and welcome you among them ! As I think 
of these things my soul is in haste to be gone ; I long to be set 
free from sin and self and to go to the fellowship of those who 
have done with them forever, and are perfect and entire, want- 
ing nothing. Dear Nelly, I pray that you may have as easy a 
journey homeward as your Father's love and compassion can 
make for you ; but these sufferings at the worst can not last 
long, and they are only the messengers sent to loosen your last 
tie on earth, and conduct you to the sweetest rest. But I dare 
not write more lest I weary your poor worn frame with words 
May the very God of peace be with you every moment, even 
nnto the end, and keep your heart and raind stayed upon Him ! 

Mrs. Payson had been an intimate friend of her childhood, 
and was endeared to her by uncommon loveliness and excel 
lencc of character. The bereaved husband, with his little boy 
passed a portion of the ensuing winter at the parsonage in 



THE PASTORS WTFK. 237 

New York. There was something about the child, a sweetness 
and a clinging, almost wild, devotion to his father, which, to- 
gether with his motherless state, touched his aunt to the quick 
and called forth her tenderest love. Many a page of Stepping 
lieavenward was written with this child in her arms ; and per- 
haps that is one secret of its power. When, not very long 
afterwards, he went to his mother, Mrs. Prentiss wrote to the 
father : 

Only this morning I was trying to invent some way of fram- 
ing my little picture of Francis, so as to see it every day before 
my eyes. And now this evening's mail brings your letter, and 
I am trying to believe what it says is true. If grief and pain 
could comfort you, you would be comforted ; we all loved 
Francis, and A. has always said he was too lovely to live. How 
are you going to bear this new blov/ ? My heart aches as 'it 
asks the question, aches and trembles for you. But perhaps 
you loved him so, that you will come to be willing to have him 
in his dear mother's safe keeping ; will bear your own pain in 
future because through your anguish your lamb is sheltered 
orever, to know no more pain, to suffer no more for lack of 
womanly care, and is already developing into the rare charac- 
ter which made him so precious to you. Oh do try to rejoice 
for him while you can not but mourn for yourself. At the longest 
you will not have long to suffer ; we are a short-lived race. 

But while I write I feel that I want some one to speak a 
omforting word to me ; I too am bereaved in the death ot 
this precious child, and my sympathy for you is in itself a 
pang. Dear little lamb ! I can not realise that I shall never 
see that sweet face again in this world ; but I shall see it in 
heaven. God bless and comfort you, my dear afflicted broi'ier. 
I dare not weary you with words which all seem a mockery ; I 
can on.y assure you of my tenderest love and sympathy, and 
that we all feel with and for you as only those can who know 
what this child was to you. I am going to bed with an aching 
heart, praying that light may spring out of this darkness. Give 
love from us all to Ned and Will. Perhaps Ned will kindly 
write me if you feel that you can not, and tell me all about the 
dear child's illness. 



238 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 



II. 



Last Visit from Mrs. Stearns. Visits to old Friends at Newport and Rochester. Letteri 
Goes to Dorset. Fred and Maria and Me. Letters. 

The life of a pastor's wife is passed in the midst of mingled 
gladness and sorrow. While somebody is always rejoicing, 
somebody, too, is always sick or dying, or else weeping. How 
often she goes with her husband from the wedding to the fu- 
neral, or hurries with him from the funeral to the wedding. 
And then, perhaps, in her own family circle the same process 
is repeated. The year 1868 was marked for Mrs. Prentiss in 
an unusual degree by the sorrowful experience. The latter 
part of May Mrs. Stearns, then suffering from an exhausting 
disease, came to New York and spent several weeks in hopes of 
finding some relief from change of scene. But her case grev/ 
more alarming; she passed the summer at Cornwall on the 
Hudson in great pain and feebleness, and was then carried 
home to lie down on her dying bed. 

We had a dreadful time getting here ; I did not sleep a 

To Mrs. ^^'i^k ; there were 1,250 passengers on board, almost 

Stearns, piled OH each other, and such screaminor of babies it 

July 7, would be hard to equal. There are lots of people here 

we know ; ever so many stopped to speak to us after 

church. We are in the midst of a perfect world of show and 

glitter. But how many empty hearts drive up and down in 

this gay procession of wealth and fashion ! 

I shall think of you a good deal to-day, as setting forth on 
your journey and reaching your new home. I do hope you will 
find it refreshing to go up the river, and that your rooms will 
be pleasant and airy. We shall be anxious to hear all about it. 
It is a constant lesson to be with Mrs. McCurdy. I think 
she is a true Christian in all her views of life and death. Her 
sweet patience, cheerfulness and contentment are a continual 
reproof to me. Here she is so lame that she can go nowhere— 
a lameness of over twenty years — restricted to the plainest 
food, liable to die at any moment, yet the very happiest, sun- 
niest creature I ever saw. She says, with tears, that God has 



THE pastor's wife. 239 

been too good to her and given her too much ; that she some- 
times fears He does not love her because He gives her such 
prosperity. I reminded her of the four lovely children she had 
lost. " Yes," she says, *' but how man}^ lovely ones I have left ! " 
She says that the long hours she has to spend alone, on account 
of her physical infirmities, are never lonely or sad ; she sings 
hymns and thinks over to herself all the pleasures she has er- 
joyed in the past, in her husband and children and devoted 
servants. She goes up to bed singing, and I hear her singing 
while she dresses. She said, the other day, that at her funeral 
she hoped the only services would be prayers and hymns of 
praise. I think this very remarkable from one who enjoys life 
as she does.' 

George and I went to Rochester, taking M. with us, last 
Wednesday and sfot back Friday night. We had one 

To the Same, ^ , . . , , , • » i-r 

Newport, of tliose visits that make a mark m one s lite ; seemg 
Juiy^o. y^^^ ,^^^ ^j.g Leonard, and Mrs. Randall, and Miss 
Deborah,'' so fond of us, and all together we were stirred up 
as we rarely are, and refreshed beyond description. We rowed 
on Mr. Leonard's beautiful, nameless lake, fished, gathered 
water-lilies, ate black Hamburg grapes and broiled chickens, 
and wished you had them in our place. Mr. L.'s mother is a 

' Mrs. McCurdy died at her home in New York in December, 1876, A few sentences 
from a brief address at the funeral by her old pastor will not be here out of place. " Hex 
natural character was one of the loveliest I have ever known. Its leading traits were as 
simple and clear as daylight, while its cheering effect upon those who came under its 
influence was like that of sunshine. She was not only very happy herself— enjoying life 
to the last in her home and her friends — but she was gifted with a disposition and power 
to make others happy such as falls to the lot of only a select few of the race. Her do- 
mestic and church ties brought her into relations of intimate acquaintance and friendship 
with some of the best men of her times. I will venture to mention two of them : her 
uncle, the late Theodore Frelinghuysen, one of the noblest men our country has pro- 
duced, eminent alike as statesman, scholar, and Christian philanthropist ; and the sainted 
Thomas H. Skinner, her former pastor. Her sick-room— if sick-room is the proper 
Qame-4n which, during the last seventeen years, she passed so mucli of her time, was 
.inged with no sort of gloom ; it seemed to have two doors, one of them opening into 
the world, through which her family and friends passed in and out, learning lessons of 
patience and love and sweet contentment : the other opening heavenward, and ever ajar 
to admit the messenger of her Lord, in whatever watch he should cone to summon her 
home. The place was like that upper chamber facing the sunrising, and whose name 
was Peace, in which Bunyan's Pilgrim was lodged on the way to the celestial city. Hu^« 
many pleasant au . hallowed memories lead back to that room ' '' 

3 Old New Red ford friends. 



240 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

sweet, calm old lady, with whom I wanted to have a talk about 
Christian perfection, in which she believes ; but there was no 
time. It was a great rest to unbend the bow strung so high 
here at Newport, where there is so much of receiving and pay- 
ing visits. I have been reading a delightful French book, the 
liistory of a saintly Catholic family of great talent and culture, 
six of whom, in the course of seven years, died the most beau- 
tiful, happy deaths. I am going to make an abstract of it, for 
I want everybody I love to get the cream of it. You would 
enjoy it ; I do not know whether it has been translated. 

Here begins my first letter to you from your old room, 
whence I hope to write you regularly every week. 
Dorset, That IS the one only little thing I can do to show 
julyzt. ^^^^ truly and constantly I sympathise with you in 
your sore straits. It distresses me to hear how much you are 
suffering, and at the same time not to be near enough to speak 
a word of good cheer, or to do anything for your comfort. It 
grieves me to find how insecure my health is, for I had prom- 
ised to myself to be your loving nurse, should any turn in you' 
disease make it desirable. Miss Lyman boards here, but rooms 
at the Sykes', and her friend Miss Warner is also here, but 
rooms out. Miss W. is in delicate health, takes no tea or cof- 
fee, and is full of humor. We have run at and run upon each 
other, each trying to get the measure of the other, and shall 
probably end in becoming very good friends. 

It is a splendid day, and we feel perfectly at home, only 
missing you and finding it queer to be occupying your room. 
What a nice room it is ! How I wish you were sitting here 
with me behind the shade of these maple trees, and that I 
could know from your own lips just how you are in body and 
mind. But I suppose the weary, aching body has the soul 
pretty well enchained. Never mind, dear, it won't be so al- 
ways ; by and by the tables will be turned, and you will be the 
conqueror. I like to think that far less than a hundred years 
hence we shall all be free ^rom the law of sin and death, and 
happier in one moment of our new existence, than through a 
whole life-time here. Rest must and will come, sooner or later, 
to you and to me and to all of us, and it will be glorious. You 
may have seen a notice of the death of Prof. Hopkins' mother 



THE PASTORS WIFE. 24 1 

at the age of ninety-five. But for this terribly hot vveatlier, I 
presume she might have lived to be one hundred. 

I shall not write you such a long letter again, as it will tire 
you, and if you would rather have two short ones a week, I 
will do that. Let me know if I tire you. Now good-bye, dear 
child ; may God bless and keep you and give you all the failh 
and patience you need. 

We spent rather more than two weeks at Newport, taking 
To Miss ^'^^ *^^ three days to run to Rochester, Mass., to see 
Mary B. some of Our old New Bedford friends. We had a 
Dorset, Aii^. charming time with them, as they took us up just 
2, 1S68. ^yhej-e they left us nearly twenty years ago. Oh, how 
our tongues did fly ! We left Newport for home on Tuesday 
night about two weeks ago. I went on board and went to 
bed as well as usual, tossed and turned a few hours, grew faint 
and began to be sick, as I always am now if I lose my sleep ; 
got out of bed and could not get back again, and so lay on the 
floor all the rest of the night without a pillow, or anything 
over me and nearly frozen. The boys were asleep, and anyhow 
it never crossed my mind to let them call George, who was in 
another state-room. He says that when he came in, in the 
morning, I looked as if I had been ill six months, and I am 
sure I felt so. Imagine the family picture we presented driving 
from the boat all the way home, George rubbing me with 
cologne, A. fanning me, the rest crying ! On Saturday more 
dead than alive I started for this place, and by stopping at 
Troy four or five hours, getting a room and a bed, I got here 
without much damage. 

Our house is very pretty, and I suppose it will be done by 
next year. Oh, how they do poke ! George is so happy in 
watching it, and in working in his woods, that I am perfectly 
delighted that he has undertaken this project. It may add 
years to his life. Imagine my surprise at receiving from Scrib- 
ner a check for one hundred and sixty-four dollars for six 
months of Fred and Maria and Me. The little thing has done 
v/ell, hasn't it ? I feel now as if I should never write any more ; 
letter-writing is only talking and is an amusement, but book- 
writing looks formidable. Excuse this horrid letter, and write 
and let me know how you are. Meanwhile collect grasses. 
16 



242 THE Lll-1£ OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

dip them in hot water, and sift flour over them. Good-bye 
dear. 

Fred and Maria and Me first appeared anonymously in the 
Hours at Home, in 1865. It had been written several years 
before, and, without the knowledge of Mrs. Prentiss, was of- 
fered by a friend to whom she had lent the manuscript, to the 
Atlantic Monthly and to one or two other magazines, but 
they all declined it. She herself thus refers to it in a letter 
to Mrs. Smith, July 13: ''I have just got hold of the 
Hours at Home. I read my article and was disgusted with 
it. My pride fell below zero, and I wish it would stay there." 
But the story attracted instant attention. *'Aunt Avery" 
was especially admired, as depicting a very quaint and inter- 
esting type of New England religious character in the earlier 
half of the century. Such men as the late Dr. Horace Bush- 
nell and Dr. William Adams were unstinted in their praise. 
In a letter to Mrs. Smith, dated a few months later, Mrs. Pren- 
tiss writes : " Poor old Aunt Avery ! She doesn't know what 
to make of it that folks make so much of her, and has to 
keep wiping her spectacles. I feel entirely indebted to you 
for this thing ever seeing the light." When published as 
a book, Fred and Maria and Me was received with great favor, 
and had a wide circulation. In 1874 a German translation ap- 
peared.' Although no attempt is made to reproduce the 
Yankee idioms, much of the peculiar spirit and flavor of the 
original is preserved in this version. 

Miss Lyman says I have no idea of what Miss W. really is ; 
To Mrs ^^^ looks as if she would drop to pieces, can not drive 
//. h\ out, far less walk, and every word she speaks costs 
Dorset, her an effort. Miss Lyman is not well either , and 
^^sS'' ^' '^^'h^t with their health and mine, and A.'s, I see little 
of them. But what I do see is delightful, and I feel it to 
oe a real privilege to get what scraps of their society I can. Our 
house proves to be far prettier and more tasteful than I sup- 
posed. I am writing up lots of letters, and if I ever get well 
enough, shall try to begin on my Katy once more. But since 

' Fritz unci Maria und Icli. Von Mrs. Prentiss. Deutsche autorisirte Ausgfabe. Vor 
Maiie Morgenstern. Itzchoe 18-4. 



THE PASTORS WIFE. 243 

reading the Recit d'une Soeur, I am disgusted with myscll 
and my writings. I ache to have you read it. Miss Lyman 
and Miss Warner send love to you. I do not like Miss L.'s 
hacking cougii, and she says she does not believe Miss W. wih 
live through the winter. Among us we contrive to keep up a 
vast amount of laughter ; so we shall probably live forever. 

August 18///. — I have enjoyed Miss Lyman wonderfully, but 
want to get nearer to her. I see that she is one who does not 
find it easy to express her deepest and most sacred feelings. I 
reaa Katy to her and Miss W., as they were kind enough to 
propose I should, and they made some valuable suggestions to 
which I shall attend if I ever get to feeling able to begin to 
write again. I am as well as ever save in one respect, and that 
is my sleep ; I do not sleep as I did before I left home, v^'hile I 
ought to sleep better, as I work several hours a day in the 

woods, in fact do almost literally nothing else But after 

all, we arc having the nicest time in the world. I have nut 
seen George so like himself for man}^ years ; he lives out ot 
doors, pulls down fences, picks up brushwood, and keeps happy 
and well. I feel it a real mercy that his thoughts are agreeably 
occupied this summer, as otherwise he would be incessantly 
worried about Anna. We work together a good deal ; this 
morning I spoiled a new hatchet in cutting down milkweed 
where our kitchen garden is to be and we are literally raising 
our Ebenezer, which we mean to conceal with vines in due 
season. George is just as proud of our woods as if he created 
every tree himself. The minute breakfast is over the boys dart 
down to the house like arrows from the bow, and there they 
are till dinner, after which there is another dart and it is as 
much as I can do to get them to bed ; I wonder they don't sleep 
down there on the shavings. The fact is the whole Prentiss 
family has got house on the brain. There, this old letter is 
done, and 1 am going to bed, all black and blue where I .lave 
tumbled down, and as tired as tired can be. 

Aug. 2%th. — I made a tire in MY woods yesterday, and an- 
other to-day, when I melted glue, and worked at my ru:;tic 
basket, and felt extremely happy and amiable. 

Sept. \ith — Miss Warner told me to-night that she tliouLcln 
my Katy story commonplace at the beginning, but that she 
changed her mind afterward. Of course I wrote a story about 



244 ''"^I'' '-^^'^' ^*^' ^'^^- PRENTISS. 

that marigold of G W 's and I am dying to inflict it on 

you. Then if you like it, hurrah ! 

1 was right glad to get your letter yesterday, and to learn a 

j^.^,_j little of your whereabouts and whatabouts. You 

ii'ooisey, may imagine "him" as seated, spectacles on nose, 

AiZ'% reading The Nation at one end of the table, and " her " 

^^^^- as established at the other. This table is homel}^, but 
has a literary look, got up to give an air to our room ; books 
ar - papers are artistically scattered over it ; we have two bot- 
tles of ink apiece, and a box of stamps, a paper cutter and a 
pen-wiper between us. Two inevitable vases containing ferns, 
grasses, buttercups, etc., remind us that we are in the country^ 
and a "natural bracket" regales our august noses with an odor 
of its own. A can of peaches without any peaches in it, holds 
a specimen of lycopodium, and a marvelous lantern that folds 
up into nothing by day and grows big at night, brings up the 
rear. But the most wonderful article in this room is a book- 
case made by " him," all himself, in which may be seen a big 
volume of Fenelon, Taylor's Holy Living and Dying, the Recit 
d'une Soeur, which have you read ? Les Soirees de Saint Pe- 
tersbourg, Prayers of the Ages, a volume of Goethe, Aristotle's 
Ethics and some other Greek books ; the Life of Mrs. Fry, etc. 
etc. Such a queer hodge-podge of books as we brought w^ith 
us, and such a book-case ! The first thing " he " ever made for 
" her " in his mortal life. 

Our house isn't done, and what fun to watch it grow, to 
discuss its merits and demerits, to grab every check that comes 
in from magazine and elsewhere, and turn it into chairs and 
tables and beds and blankets ! Then for " them boys," what 
treasures in the way of bits of boards, and what feats of climb- 
ing and leaping ! Above all, think of "him " in an old banged- 
in hat, and " her " in a patched old gown, gathering brushwood 
in their woods, making it up into heaps, and warming them- 
selves by the fires it is agoing for to make. 

" Stick after stick did Goody pull ! " 

Mr. P. is unusually well. I lis house is the apple of his eye, 
and he is renewing his youth. Thus far the project has done 
him a world of good. 



THE PAST(JR S WITE. 24: 

Yesterday Mr. F. and George drove somewhere to look at 
sand for mortar, and the horse took fright and 
To Mrs. wheeled round and pitched George out, bruising him 
Dorset' in several places, but doing no serious harm. But I 
/13, 1S6S.'' shudder when I think how the meaning might he 
taken out of everything in this world, for me, at least. 
by such an accident. He preached all day to-day ; in the af- 
ternoon at Rupert. I find my mission-school a good deal of a 
Lax on time and strength, and it is discouraging business, too. 
One of the boys, fourteen years old, found the idea that God 
loved him so irresistibly ludicrous, that his face was a perfect 
study. I often think of you as these "active limbs of mine" 
take me over woods and fields, and remind myself that the su- 
preme happiness of my father's life came to him when he called 
himself w^hat you call yourself — a cripple. If it is not an ex- 
pensive book, I think you had better buy A Sister's Story, of 
which I wrote to you, as it would be a nice Sunday book lo 
last some time ; the Catholicism you would not mind, and the 
cultivated, high-toned Christian character you would enjoy. 

The boys complain, as George and I do, that the days are 
not half long enough. They have got their bedsteads and 
washstands done, and are now going to make couches for 
George and myself, and an indefinite number of other articles. 
Sept. 2otIi. — I am greatly relieved, my dear Anna, to hear 
that you have got safely into your new home, and that you like 
it, and long to see you face to face. George has no doubt told 
you what a happy summer we have had. It has not been un- 
mingled happiness — that is not to be found in this world — but 
in many ways it has been pleasant in spite of what infirmities 
of the flesh we carry wath us everyw^here, our anxiety about 
and sympathy with you, and the other cares and solicitude? 
that are inseparable from humanity. I had a great deal of 
comfort in seeing Miss Lyman while she was here, and in 
knowing her better, and now I am finding myself quite in love 
with her intimate friend, Miss Warner, who has been here all 
summer. A gentler, tenderer spirit can not exist. 

Mrs. F.'s brother was here with his wife, some weeks ago, 
and they were summoned home to the death-bed of their last 
surviving child. Mrs. F. read me a letter yesterday describin.g 
her last hours, which were really touching and beautiful 



246 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

especially the distributing among her friends the various pret- 
ty things she had made for them during her illness, as parti ig 
gifts. I suppose this will be my last letter from Dorset a.id 
from your old room. Well, you and I have passed some happy 
hours under this roof. Good-bye, dear, with love to each and 
all of your beloved ones. 

I was so nearly frantic, m}^ dear Fanny, from want of sleep, 

^ ,,. that I could not feel anvthing. I was perfectly stu- 
To Miss ^ & r J- 

Eliza A. pid, and all the way home from East Dorset hardly 

DorlTtl spoke a word to my dear John, nor did he to me.' The 

*^<^^- 27. next day he said such lovely things to me that I hardly 

knew whether I was in the body or out o^ it, and then 

came your letter, as if to make my cup run over. I longed for 

you last night, and it is lucky for your frail body that can bear 

so little, that you were not in your little room at Mrs. G.'s ; but 

not at all lucky for your heart and soul. I hope God will bless 

us to each other. It is not enough that we find in our mutual 

affection something cheering and comforting. It must make us 

more perfectly His. AVhat a wonderful thing it is that coming 

here entire strangers to each other, we part as if we had known 

each other half a century ! 

I am not afraid that we shall get tired of each other. The 
great point of union is that we have gone to our Saviour, hand 
in hand, on the supreme errand of life, and have not come 
away empty. All my meditations bring me back to that point ; 
or, I should rather say, to Him. I came here praying that in 
some way I might do something for Him. The summer has 
gone, and I am grieved that I have not been, from its begin- 
ning to its end, so like Him, so full of Him, as to constrain ev- 
erybody I met to love Him too. Isn't there such power in a 
holy life, and have not some lived such a life ? I hardly know 
whether to rejoice most in my love for Him, or to mourn over 
my meagre love ; so I do both. 

When I think that I have a new friend, who will be indul- 
gent to my imperfections, and is determined to find something 
in me to love, I am glad and thankful. But when, added to 
that, I know she will pray for me, and so help my poor soul 

• She gave me the pet-name of " Fanny " because she did not like mine, and there was 
an old joke about "John." — E. A. W. 



THE pastor's wife. 247 

heavenward, it does seem as if God had been too good to me. 
Vou can do it lying down or sitting up, or when you are 
among other friends. It is true, as you say, that I do ne)t 
think much of "lying-down prayer" in my own case, but I 
have not a weak back and do not need such an attitude. And the 
praying we do by the wayside, in cars and steamboats, in streets 
and in crowds, perhaps keeps us more near to Christ than long 
prayers in solitude could without the help of these little mes- 
sengers, that hardly ever stop running to Him and coming 
back with the grace every moment needs. You can put me 
into some of these silent petitions when you are too tired to 
pray for me otherwise. 

I have been writing this in my shawl and bonnet, expecting 
every instant to hear the bell toll for church, and now it is time 
to go. Good-bye, dear, till by and by. 

Well, I have been and come, and — wonder of wonders ! — I 
have had a little tiny bit of a very much needed nap, Mr. 
Pratt gave us a really good sermon about living to Christ, and 
I enjoyed the hymns. We have had a talk, my John and I, 
about death, and I asked him which of us had better go first, 
and, to my surprise, he said he thought / should. I am sure 
that was noble and unselfish in him. But I am not going to 
have even a wish about it. God only knows which had better 
go first, and which stay and suffer. Some of His children must 
go into the furnace to testify that the Son of God is there with 
them ; I do not know why I should insist on not being one of 
them. Sometimes I almost wish we were not building a house. 
It seems as if it might stand in the way, if it should happen I 
had a chance to go to heaven. I should almost feel mean to 
do that, and disappoint my husband who expects to see me so 
happy there. But oh, I do so long to be perfected myself, and 
to live among those whose one thought is Christ, and who only 
speak to praise Him ! 

I like you to tell me, as you do in your East Dorset letter, 
how you spend your time, etc. I have an insatiable curiosity 
about even the outer li^'j of those I love ; and of the inner one 
you can not say too much. Good-bye. We shall have plent> 
of time in heaven to sav all we have to say to each other. 



248 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 



III. 

Return to Town. Death of an old Friend. Letters and Notes of Love and Sympathy 
An Old Ladies' Party. Scenes of Trouble and Dying Beds. Fifty Years old. Letters 

Her return to town brought with it a multitude of cares. 
The following months drew heavily upon her strength and 
sympathies ; but for all that they were laden with unwonted 
joy. The summer at Dorset had been a very happy one. 
While there she had finished Stepping Heavenward and on 
coming back to her city home, the cheery, loving spirit of the 
book seemed still to possess her whole being. Katy's words 
at its close were evidently an expression of her own feelings : 

Yes, I love everybody ! That crowning- joy has come to me at last. 
Christ is in my soul; He is mine; I am as conscious of it as that my hus- 
band and children are mine ; and His Spirit flows forth from mine in the 
cahn peace of a river, whose banks are green with grass, and glad with 
flowers. 

This is the first moment since we reached home, in which I 

could write to you, but I have had you in my heart 

Eliza A. and in my thoughts as much as ever. We had a pros- 

NewvTrk P^^^^'^s journey, but the ride to Rupert was fearfully 

Oct. 5, cold. I never remember beinor so cold, unless it was 
1S68 

the night I reached Williamstown, when I went to my 

dear sister's funeral I have told you this long story to 

try to give you a glimpse of the distracted life that meets us at 
our very threshold as we return home. And now I'm going to 
trot down to see Miss Lyman, whom I shall just take and hug, for 
I am so brimful of love to everybody that I must break some- 
body's bones, or burst. John preached delightfully yesterday ; T 
wanted you there to hear. But all my treasures are in earthen 
vessels; he seems all used up by his Sunday and scarcely 
touched his breakfast. I don't see how his or my race can be 
very long, if we live in New York. All the more reason for 
running it well. And what a blessed, blessed life it is, at the 
worst ! "Central peace subsisting at the heart of endless agi- 
tation." Good-bye, dear ; consider yourself embraced by a 
hearty soul that heartily loves you, and that soul lives in E. P 



A DAUiiii ri:K rii- co-NsuL.vriON. 249 

On the 25th of October Mr. Charles H. Leonard, an old 
and highly esteemed friend, died very suddenly at his summer 
home in Rochester, Mass. He was a man of sterling worth, 
generous, large-hearted, and endeared to Mrs. Prentiss and her 
husband by many acts of kindness. He was one of the found- 
ers of the Church of the Covenant and had also aided liberally 
in building its pleasant parsonage. 

I am reminded as I write my date, that I am fifty years old 
to-day. My John says it is no such thing, and that I 
miZ^A. am only thirty ; but I begin to feel antiquated, dilapi- 
[^'<^nier (j[ated, and antediluvian, etc., etc. 

Aezv York, ' • -n* 

Oct. 26, I write to let you know that we are gomg to Ro- 

^^^' Chester, Mass., to attend the funeral of a dear friend 
there. It seems best for me to risk the wear and tear of the 
going and the coming, if I can thereby give even a little com- 
fort to one who loves me dearly, and who is now left without a 
single relative in the world. For twenty-four years these have 
been faithful friends, loving us better every year, members of 
our church in New Bedford, Mercer street, and then here. 
They lived at Rochester during the summer and we visited 
them there (yon may remember my speaking of it) just before 
we went to Dorset. Mrs. Leonard was then feeling very un- 
easy about her husband, but he got better and seemed about 
as usual, till last Tuesday, when he was stricken down with 
paralysis and died on Saturday. Somebody said that spending 
so large a portion of my time as I do in scenes of sorrow, she 
wondered God did not give me more strength. But I think 
He knows just how much to give. I have been to Newark 
twice since I wrote you. Mrs. Stearns is in a very suffering 
condition ; I was appalled by the sight ; appalled at the weak- 
ness of human nature (its physical weakness). But I got over 
that, and had a sweet glimpse at least of the eternal felicity 
that is to be the end of what at longest is a brief period of suf- 
fering. I write her a little bit of a note every few days. I feci 
like a ball that now is tossed to Sorrow and tossed back by 
Sorrow to Joy. For mixed in with every day's experience of 
suffering are such great, such unmerited mercies. 

Two or three of the little notes follow : 



250 Tin: LIFK OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

My Dearest Anna : — I long to be with you through the 
hours that are before you, and to help cheer and s.-stain you in 
the trial of faith and patience to which you are called. But 
unless you need. me I will not go, lest I should be the one too 
many in your state of excitement and suspense. We all feel 
anxiety as to the result of the incision, but take comfort in cast- 
ing our care upon God. May Christ Jesus, our dear Saviour, 
who loves and pities you infinitely more than any of us do, be 
very near you in this season of suspense. I would gladly ex- 
change positions with you if I might, and if it were best ; but 
as I may not, and it is not best, because God wills otherwise, T 
earnestly commend you to His tender sympathy. If He means 
that you shall be restored to health, He will make 3^ou happy 
in living ; if He means to call you home to Himself, He will 
make you happy in dying. Dear Anna, stay yourself on Him : 
He has strength enough to support 3"ou, when ail other strength 
fails. Remember, as Lizzy Smith said, you are " encompassed 

with prayers." 

Friday Afternoon. 

My Dear Anna : — I send you a "lullaby" for next Sunday, 
which I met with at Dorset, and hope it will speak a little word 
and sing a little song to you while the rest are at church. How 
I do wish I could see you every day ! I feel restless with long- 
ing ; but you are hardly able to take any comfort in a long 
visit and it is such a journey to make for a short one ! But, as 
I said the other day, if at any time you feel a little stronger 
and it would comfort you even a little bit to see me, I will 
drop everything and run right over. It seems hard to h.ave you 
suffer so and do nothing for you. But don't be discouraged 
pain can't last forever. 

" I know not the way I am going 
But well do I know my Guide ! 
With a childlike trust I give my hand. 
To the mighty Friend at my side. 
The only thing that I say to Him 
As He takes it, is, ' Hold it fast. 
Suffer me not to lose my way. 
And bring me home at last ! ' " 

My Dear Anna : — I feel such tender love and pity for you 
but I know you are too sick to read more than a few words. 



A DAUCFITKR OF CONSOTw.TION. 2$! 

" In the furnace God may prove thee, 
Thence to bring thee forth more bright 
But can never cease to love thee ; 
Thou art precious in His sight ! " 

Your ever affectionate Lizzy, 

We got home safely last evening before any of the children 
had sfone to bed, and they all came runnini^: to meet 

To Mrs. , ^ 

Leonard US most joyfully. This morning I am restless and can 
3o,?S68. ^'^t set about anything. It distresses me to think how 
little human friendship can do for such a sorrow as 
yours. When a sufferer is on the rack he cares little for what 
is said to him, though he may feel grateful for sympath}-. I 
found it hard to tear myself away from you so soon, but all I 
could do for you there I could do all along the way home and 
since I have got here : love you, be sorry for you, and con- 
stantly pray for you. 1 am sure that He who has so sorely 
afflicted you accepts the patience with which you bear the rod, 
and that when this first terrible amazement and bewilderment 
are over, and you can enter into communion and fellowship 
with Him, you will find a joy in Him that, hard as it is to the 
llesh to say so, transcends all the sweetest and best joys of 
human life. You will have nothing to do now but to tly to 
Him. I have seen the time when I could hide myself in Him 
as a little child hides in its mother's arms, and so have thou- 
sands of aching hearts. In all our afflictions He is afflicted. 
But I must not weary you with words. May God bless and 
keep you, and fully reveal Himself unto you ! 

I have been lying on the sofa in my room, half asleep, and 

feeling rather guilty at the lot of gas I was wasting, 

A ivamer, but too lazy or too tired to get up to turn it down. 

'"^ ^rj 'T'^' Your little "spray" hangs right over the head of my 

i86S. befj^ and as it was slightly dilapidated by its journey 
hither, I have tucked in a bit of green fern with it to remind 
nie that I was not always in the sere and yellow leaf, but had 
a spring-time once. To think of your going for to go and 
write verses to me in my old age ! I have just been reading 
them over and think it was real good of you to up and say 
such nice things in such a nice way. I'd no idea you could ! 
We did not come home from Rochester through Boston ; if we 



252 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

had done so I meant to go and see you. I made it up in manj 
.oving thoughts to you on our twelve hours' journey. Pooi 
Mrs. L. met me with open arms, and I w^as thankful indeed 
that I w^ent, though every word I said in the presence of ler 
terrible grief, sounded flat and cold and dead. How little the 
(enderest love and sympath}^ can do, in such sorrows ! She 
was so bewildered and appalled by her sudden bereavement, 
that it was almost a mockery to say a w^ord ; and yet I kept 
saying what I know is true, that Christ in the soul is better 
than any earthly joy. Both Mr. Prentiss and myself feel the 
reaction which must inevitably follow such a strain. 

You ask if I look over the past on my birthdays. I suppose 
I used to do it and feel dreadfully at the pitiful review, but 
since I have had the children's to celebrate, I haven't thought 
much of mine. But this time, being fifty years old, did set me 
upon thinking, and I had so many mercies to recount and to 
thank God for, that I hardly felt pangs of any sort, I suppose 
He controls our moods in such seasons, and I have done trying 
to force myself into this or that train of thought. I am sure 
that a good deal of what used to seem like repentance and sor- 
row for sin on such occasions, was really nothing but wounded 
pride that wished it could appear better in its own eyes. God 
has been so good to me ! I wish I could begin to realise how 
good ! I think a great many thoughts to you that I can't put 
on paper. Life seems teaching some new, or deepening the 
impression of some old, lesson, all the time. 

You think A. may have looked scornfully at your little 
''spray." Well, she didn't ; she said, "What's that funny little 
thing perched up there ? Well, it's pretty anyhow." Among 

the rush of visitors to-day were Miss Haines and the W s. 

I fell upon Miss W. and told her about you, furiously ; then we 
got upon Miss Lyman, and it did my very soul good to hear 
Miss Haines praise and magnify her. Never shall I cease to 
be thankful for being with her at Dorset, to say nothing, dear, 
of you ! Do you know that there are twelve cases of typhoid 
fever at Vassar ? and that Miss Lyman is not as well as she 
was? I feel greatly concerned about her, not to say troubled. 
I don't suppose I shall ever hear her pray. But I shall hear 
her and help her praise. I don't believe a word about there 
being different grades of saints in heaven Some people think 



A DAUGHTER OF CONSOLATION. 253 

it modest to say that they don't expect to get anywhere neai 
so and so, they are so — etc., etc. But I expect to be mixed all 
up with the saints, and to take perfect delight in their testi 
m(my to my Saviour. 

Can you put up with this miserable letter? Folks can I 
rush to Newark and to Rochester and agonise in every nerve 
at the sufferings of others, and be quite coherent. I have sense 
enough left tu know that I love you dearly, and that I long to 
see you and to take sweet counsel with you once more. Don't 
fail to give me the helping hand. 

The following was written to Mrs. Stearns on her silver- 
wedding day, Nov. 15 : 

My Dearest Anna : I have thought of you all day with 
the tenderest sympathy, knowing how you had looked forward 
to it, and what a contrast it offers to your bridal day tw^enty- 
five years ago. But I hope it has not been wholly sad. You 
have a rich past that can not be taken from you, and a richer 
future lies before you. For I can see, though through, your 
tears you can not, that the Son of God walks with you in this 
furnace of affliction, and that He is so sanctifying it to your 
soul, that ages hence you will look on this day as better, 
sweeter, than the day of your espousals. It is hard now to 
suffer, but after all, the light affliction is nothing, and the lucight 
of glory is everything. You may not fully realise this or any 
other truth, in your enfeebled state, but truth remains the same 
v^diether we appreciate it or not ; and so does Christ. Your 
despondency does not prove that He is not just as near to you 
as He is to those who see Him more clearly ; and it is better to 
be despondent than to be self-righteous. Don't you see that 
in afflicting you He means to prove to you that He loves you^ 
and that you love Him? Don't you remember that it is His 
son — not His enemy — that He scourgeth ? 

The greatest saint on earth has got to reach heaven on the 
same terms as the greatest sinner ; unworthy, unfit, good-for- 
nothing ; but saved through grace. Do cheer and comfort 
yourself with these thoughts, my dearest Anna, and your sick- 
room will he the happiest room in your house, as I constantl> 
pray it m.ay be ! Your ever affectionate Lizzy. 



254 'i'^^^ LIFE ()1 MRS. I'RENTISS. 

You ask how I sleep. I always sleep better at home than 

elsewhere ; this is one great reason why we decided 

E. A. w., to have a home all the year round. I have to walk 

^^ToJ°\-'^'' ^^^^ ^^ ^'^'^^ miles a day, which takes a good dec I oi 

iS6S. time, these short days, but there is no help for it. 1 
do not think the time is lost when I am out of doors ; I sup- 
pose Christ may go with us, does go with us, wherever we ^o. 
But I am too eager and vehement, too anxious to be working 
all the time. Why, no, I don't think it wrong to want to be at 
work provided God gives us strength for work ; the great thing 
is not to repine when He disables us. I don't think, my dear, 
that you need trouble yourself about my dying at present ; it 
is not at all likely that I shall. I feel as if I had got to be 
tested yet ; this sweet ^eace, of which 1 have so much, almost 
startles me. I keep asking myself whether it is not a stupen- 
dous delusion of Satan and my own wicked heart. How I wish 
I could see you to-night ! There is so much one does not like 
to put on paper that one would love to say. 

Thursday, 4 P.M. — Well, my lunch-party is over, and m)' 
sewing society is re-organised, and before I go forth to tea, let 
me finish and send off this epistle. We had the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. 
Washburn, of Constantinople, Dr. Chickering, and Prof, and 
Mrs. Smith ; gave them cold turkey, cold ham, cold ice-cream 
and hot coffee ; that was about all, for society in New York is 
just about reduced down to eating and drinking together, after 
which you go about 3'our business. 

I am re-reading Leighton on ist Peter; I wonder if you 
like it as much as my John and I do ! I hope your murderous 
book goes on well ; then you can take your rest next summ,er. 
Now I must get ready for my long walk down and over to Ninth 
St., to see a tiny little woman, and English at that. Her prayer 
at our meeting yesterday moved us all to tears. 

Mr. Prentiss complained yesterday that no letters came, an 
To Miss unheard-of event in our family history, and this morn- 
Fiiza A. ing found twelve sticking in the top of the box ; among 

learner, . y -r • • n- 

Nezo York, thcm was yours, but 1 was just gomg off 1;o my 
^'i86S^^' prayer-meeting, and had to put it into my pocket and 
let it go too. I am glad you sent me Mrs. Field's let- 
ter and poem ; she is a genius, and writes beautifully. And 



A DAUGHTER OF CONSOLATION. 255 

how glad you must be to hear about your books. I can't imag- 
ine what better work you want than writing. In what othei 
way could you reach so many minds and hearts ? You must 
always send me such letters. Before I forget it, let me tell yoi; 
of a real Thanksgiving present we have just had ; three baj 
rcis of potatoes, some apples, some dried apples, cranbcriic.^., 
celery, canned corn, canned strawberries, and two big chickens 
After c/ui?'ch, Thursday. — I must indulge myself with goin- 
on with my letter, for after dinner I want to play with the 
children, and make this day mean something to them besides 
pies. For everybody spoke for pies this year (you know we 
almost never make such sinful things) and they all said ice- 
cream wouldn't do at all, so ^^esterday I made fourteen of these 
enormities, and mean to stuff them (the children, not the pies !) 
so that they w^on't want any more for a year. I want to tell 
you about some pretty coincidences ; we went to church in a 
dismal rain, and Mr. Prentiss preached on the beauty of holi- 
ness, and every time he said anything that made sunshine par- 
ticularly appropriate, the sun came in in floods, then disap- 
peared till the next occasion. For instance, he spoke of the 
sunshine of a happy home as so much brighter than that of the 
natural sun, and the whole church was instantly illuminated ; 
then he said that if we had each come there with ten million 
sorrows, Christ could give us light, when, lo, the church glowed 
again ; and so on half-a-dozen times, till at last he quoted the 
verse ^^ And the Lamb is the light thereof^'' when a perfect blaze of 
effulgence made those mysterious words almost startling. And 
then he wound up by describing the Tyrolesc custom on which 
Mrs. Field's poem is founded, which he had himself seen and 
enjoyed, and of which, it seems, he spoke at East Dorset last 
summer at the Sunday-school.' I read the poem and letter to 

' The custom related to a pious salutation, with which two friends, or even stranjicrs, 
gieet each other, when meeting on the mountain highways and passes in certain dihtricli 
3l Tyrol, " Gelubt set Jesu Christ'!'' cries one ; " hi Ewigkeit, Amen!'' answers ihr 
other, (i. e., " Praised be Jesus Christ ! " " For evermore, Amen ! ") The following liro: 
Ut-; from Mrs. F.'s poem : 

"When the poor peas.int, alpenstock in h.ind, 
Toils up the steep, 
And finds a friend upon tlie dizzy height 
Amid his sheep, 

" They do not greet each other as in our 
Kind English way, 



256 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

him the instant we got home, and he admired them both. It 
was a little singular that her poem and his sermon came to me 
at almost the identical moment, wasn't it ? 

I must tell you about an old ladies' party given by Mrs. 
Cummings, w4fe of him who prepared my father's memoir.' 
She had had a fortune left to her and was all the time doing 
gDod with it, and it entered her head to get up a very nice sup- 
per for twenty-six old ladies, the youngest of whom was seventy- 
five (the Portland people rarely die till they're ninety or so). 
She sent carriages for all who couldn't walk, and when they 
all got together, the lady who described the scene to me, said 
it was indescribably beautiful, all congratulating each other 
that they were so far on in their pilgrimage and so near heav- 
en ! Lovely, wasn't it ? I wish I could spend the rest of my 
ife with such people ! Then she spoke of Mrs. C.'s face dur 
ing the last six months of her life, when it had an expression 
so blest, so seraphic, that it was a delight to look upon it — and 
how she had all the members of the ladies' prayer-meeting 
come and kiss her good-bye after she was too weak to speak. 

And now the children have got together again, and I must 
go and stay with them till their bed-time, when, partly for the 
sake of the walk, partly because they asked us, we tw^ain are 
going to see the Smiths. I rather think, my dear, that if, aL 
you say, you could see all my thoughts, you would drop me as 
you would a hot potato. You would see many good thoughts^ 
I won't deny that, and some loving ones ; but you would also 
see an abominable lot of elated, conceited, horrid ones ; self- 
laudation even at good planned to do, and admired before 
done. But God can endure what no mortal eye could ; He does 
not love I s because we are so lovely, but because He always 

Ask not for health, nor wish in cheerful phrase 
A prosperous day ; 

" Infinite thoughts alone spring up in that 
Great solitude, 
Nothing seems worthy or significant 
But heavenly good ; 

'* So in this reverent and sacred form 

Their souls outpour, — 
" Blessed be Jesus Christ's most holy name ! ' 

' For evermore ! ' " 

> Rev. Asa Cumming^s, D.D., of Portland, for many years editor of the ChristiAr 
Mirror ; one of the weightiest, wisest and best men of his generation. 



A DAUGHTER OF CONSOLATION. 257 

loves what He pities. I fall back upon this thought whenever 
I feel discouraged ; I was going to say sad, but that isn't the 
word, for I never do feel sad except when I've been eating 
something I'd no business to ! Good-bye, dearie. 

I think I must indulge myself, n.y dear, in writing to you 

to-night, it being really the only thing I want to do. 

Same Xew unless it be to lie half asleep on the sofa. And that I 

^'^^^iPcf^' can't do, for there's no sofa in the room ! The cold 
3, 1S6S. ' 

weather has made it agreeable to have a nre m the 

dining-room grate, and this makes it a cheerful resort for the 
children, especially as the long table is very convenient for 
their books, map-drawing, etc. And wherever the rest are the 
mother must be ; I suppose that is the law of a happy family, 
in the winter at least. The reason I am so tired to-night is 
that I have been unexpectedly to Newark. I went, as soon as 
I could after breakfast, to market, and then on a walk of over 
two miles to prepare myself for our sewing-circle ! I met our 
sexton as I was coming home, and asked him to see what ailed 
one of the drawers of my desk that wouldn't shut. We had a 
terrible time with it, and I had to take everything out, and 
turn my desk topsy-turvy, and your letters and all my other 
papers got raving distracted, and all mixed up with bits of 
sealing-wax, old pens, and dear knows what not, when down 
comes A. from the school-room, to say that Mrs. Stearns had 
sent for me to come right out, thinking she was dying. I knew 
nothing about the trains, always trusting to Mr. Prentiss about 
that, but in five minutes I was off, and on reaching the depot 
found I had lost a train by ten minutes, and that thert 
wouldn't be another for an hour. Then I had leisure to re- 
member that Mr. P. was to get home from Dorset, that I had 
left no message for him, had hid away all the letters that had 
come in his absence, where he couldn't find them ; that if it 
was necessary for me to stay at Newark all night he would be 
dreadfully frightened, etc., etc. Somehow I felt very blue, but 
at last concluded to get rid of a part of the time by hunting up 
some dinner at a restaurant. 

When I at last got to Newark, I found that Mrs. Stearns' 
disease had suddenly developed several unfavorable symptoms. 
She had made up her mind that all hope was over, had taki-n 
17 



258 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

leave of her family, and now wanted to bid me good-bye. She 
held my hands fast in both hers, begging me to talk. I spoke 
freely to her about her death ; she pointed up once to an illu 
mination I gave her last spring : simply to thy cross i cling 
"That," she said, "is all I can do." I said all I could to com 
fort her, but, I do not know whether God gave me the right 
word or not. 

' On my return, as I got out of the stage near the corner ol 
our street, whom should my weary eyes light on but my 
dear good man, just got home from Dorset ; how surprised and 
delighted we were to meet so unexpectedly ! M. rushed to 
meet us, and afterward said to me, "I have three great reliefs ; 
you have got home ; papa has got home ; and Aunt Anna is 
still alive," My children were never so lovely and loving as they 
are this winter ; my home is almost too luxurious and happy ; 
such things don't belong to this world. We have just heard 
of the death in Switzerland of Mr. Prentiss' successor at New 
Bedford, classmate of one of my brothers, and some one has 
sent a plaintive, sweet little dying song written at Florence by 
him. Now T am too fagged to say another word. 

Dec. 4th.— I do not get a7iy time to write ; each day brings 
its own special work that can't be done to-morrow ; as to let- 
ters, I scratch them off at odd moments, when too tired to do 
anything else. What a resource they are ! They do instead of 
crying for me. And how many I get every week that are lov- 
ing and pleasant ! 

What do you think of this ? I hope it will make you laugh 
— a lady told me she never confessed her sins aloud (in prayer) 
lest Satan should find out her weak points and tempt her more 
effectually I And I want to ask you if you ever offer to pray with 
people ? I never do, and yet there are cases when nothing else 
seems to answer. Oh, how many questions of duty come up 
every hour, and how many reasons we have every hour to 1)6 
ashamed of ourselves ! 

Monday morning. — It was a shame to write to you, when I 
was so tired that I could not write legibly, but my heart was 
full of love, and I longed to be near you. Now Monday has 
come, a lowering, forbidding day, yet all is sunshine in my 
soul, and I hope that may make my home light to my beloved 
ones, and even reach you, wherever vou are. I am going to 



A DAUGHTER OF CONSOLATION. 



259 



run out to see how Mrs. Stearns is. Our plan is for me to make 
arrangements to stay with her, if I can be of any use or com- 
fort. I literally love the house of mourning better than the 
liouse of feasting. All my long, long years of suffering and 
sorrow make sorrow-stricken homes homelike, and I can not 
but feel, because I know it from experience, that Christ loves 
to be in such homes. So you may congratulate me, dear, if I 
may be permitted to go where He goes. I wish you could 
have heard yesterday's sermon about God's having as charac- 
teristic^ individual a love to each of us as we have to our friends. 
Think of that, dear, when you remember how I loved you in 
Mrs. G.'s little parlor ! Can you realise that your Lord and 
Saviour loves you inlinitely more? I confess that such concep- 
tions are hard to attain Can't you do M S up in 

your next letter, and send her to me on approbation ? Instead 
of being satisfied that I've got you, I want her and everybody 
else who is really good, to fill up some of the empty ruoms in 
my heart. This is a rambling, scrambling letter, but I don't, 
care, and don't believe you do. Well, good-bye ; thank your 
stars that this bit of paper hasn't got any arms and can't hug 
you ! 

There is half an hour before bed-time, and I have been 

To Mrs. thinking of and praying for you, till I feel that I runs. 

Leonard, xvrite. I forp-ot to tell you, how the verses in my 

New }or&, ^ -^ ' 

Dec. 13, Daily Food, on the day of your dear husband's death, 

1868. ^ r 

seem meant tor you : 

•• Thou art niy refuge and poriiniu" — Ps. cxliii. 5. 

'Tis God tliat lifts our comforts high, 

Or sinks them in the grave ; 
He gives, and blessed be His name I 

He takes but what He gave. 

The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. — JOB i. 21. 

I have had this little book thirty-three years, it has travelled 
with me wherever I have been, and it has been indeed my song 
in the house of my pilgrimage. This has been our comnmnion 
Sunday, and I have been very glad of the rest and peace it lias 
afforded, for I have done little during the last ten days but fly 
from one scene of sorrow to another, from here to Newark and 
from Newark to Brooklvn So I have alternated betweca 



26o THE LIFE OF MRS. PFFNTISS. 

the two dyiTig beds ; yesterday Jennie P. went into a convul 
sion just as I entered the room, and did not fully come out ol 
it for an hour and a half, when I had to come away in order 
to get home before pitch dark. What a terrible sight it is , 
They use chloroform, and that has a very marked effect, con- 
trolling all violence in a few seconds. Whether the poor child 
came out of that attack alive I do not know ; I had no doubt 
she was dying till just before I came away, when she appeared 
easier, though still unconscious. The family seem nearly fran- 
tic, and the sisters are so upset by witnessing these turns, that 
I shall feel that I must be there all I can. I am in cruel doubt 
which household to go to, but hope God will direct. 

Mr. Prentiss is a good deal withered and worn by his sister's 
state ; he had never, by any means, ceased to hope, and he is 
much afflicted. She and Jennie may live a week or more, or go 
at any moment. In my long hours of silent musing and prayer, 
as I go from place to place, I think often of you. I think one 
reason why w^e do not get all the love and faith we sigh for is that 
we try to force them to come to us, instead of realising that 

they must be God's free gifts, to be won by prayer And 

now Mr. P. has come up-stairs rolled up in your afghan, and 
we have decided to go to both Newark and Brooklyn to-mor- 
row, so I know I ought to go to bed. You must take this letter 
as a great proof of my love to you, though it does not say 
much, for I am bewildered by the scenes through which I am 
passing, and hardly lU therefore to write. What I do not say 
I truly feel, real, deep, constant sympathy with you in youi 
sor:ovv and loneliness. May God bless you in it. 



CHAPTER IX. 

STEPPING HEAVENWARD. 

1869. 

I. 

Death of Mrs. Stearns. Her Character. Dangerous Illness of Prof. Smith. Death at 
the Parsonage. Letters. A Visit to Vassar College. Letters. Getting ready foi 
General Assembly. " Gates Ajar." 

A LITTLE past three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, Janu- 
ary 2, 1869, Anna S. Prentiss, wife of the Rev. Jonathan F. 
Stearns, D.D., fell asleep in Jesus. The precedinf,^ pages show 
what strong ties bound Mrs. Prentiss to this beloved sister 
Their friendship dated back thirty years ; it was cemented by 
common joys and common sorrows in some of their deepest 
experiences of life ; and it had been kept fresh and sweet by 
frequent intercourse and correspondence. Mrs. Stearns was a 
woman of uncommon attractions and energy of character. 
She impressed herself strongly upon all who came within the 
sphere of her influence ; the hearts of her husband's people, 
as well as his own and those of her children, trusted in her ; 
and the whole community where she dwelt mourned her loss. 
She had been especially endeared to her brother Seargcnt, 
with whom she spent several winters in the South prior to her 
marriage. Her influence over him, at a critical period of his 
life, was alike potent and happy; their relation to each otlicr 
Avas, in truth, full of the elements of romance; and some of 
his letters to her are exquisite effusions of fraternal confidence 
and affection.' Her letters to him, beginning when she was a 
young girl and ending only with his life, would form a large 

1 See Memoir 0/ S. S. Pre7itiss, edited by his Brother, and published by Charles 
Scribner's Sons. New Edition. 1879. 

(261; 



262 THE LTFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

volume. "You excel any one I know," he wrote to her, "in 
the kind and gentle art of letter-writing." In the midst ol 
his early professional triumphs he writes : 

You do not know what obligations I am under to you ; I owe all my 
success in this country to the fact of having so kind a mother and such 
sweet affectionate sisters as Abby and yourself. It has been my only mo- 
tive to exertion ; without it I should long since have thrown myself away. 
Even now, when, as is frequently the case, I feel perfectly reckless both of 
life and fortune, and look with contempt upon them both, the recollection 
that there are two or three hearts that beat for me with real affection, even 
though far away — comes over me as the music of David did over the dark 
spirit of Saul. I still feel that I have something worth living for. 

For years her letters helped to cherish and deepen this 
feeling. He thus refers to one of them : 

I can not tell how much I thank you for it. I cried like a child while 
reading it, and even now the tears stand in my eyes, as I think of its ex- 
pressions of affection, sympathy, and good sense I wish you were 

here now— oh, how I do wish it ! But you will come next fall, won't you.'' 
and be to me 

The antelope whose feet shall bless 

With her light step my loneliness. 

But my candle burns low, and it is past the witching hour of night. 
Whether sleeping or waking, God bless you and our dear mother, and all 
of you. Good-night — good-night. My love loads this last line. 

To Mrs. Prentiss and her husband, the death of Mrs. 
Stearns was an irreparable loss. It took out of their life one 
of its greatest earthly blessings. 

The new year opened with another painful shock — the 
sudden and dangerous illness of her husband's bosom friend, 
Henry Boynton Smith. Prof. Smith was to have made one 
of the addresses at the funeral of Mrs. Stearns ; but instead 
of doing so, he was obliged to take to his bed, and. soon after- 
wards, to flee for his life beyond the sea. To this affliction 
the reader is indebted for the letters to Mrs. Smith, contained 
in this chapter. On the i6th of February another niece of 
her husband, a sweet child of seventeen, was brought to the 
parsonage very ill and died there before the close of the 



STEPPING HEyWENWARD. 263 

raonth. Her letters will show how she was affected by these 
troubles. 

So many unanswered letters lie piled on my desk that 1 
T Mrs hardly know which to take up first, but my heart 
Leo7iard, yearns ovcr you, and I can not help writing you. No 
Jan. 9, ' wonder you grow sadder as time passes and the beloved 
^^^9* one comes not, and comes not. I wish I could help 
you bear your burden, but all I can do is to be sorry for you. 
The peaceable fruits of sorrow do not ripen at once ; there is 
a long time of weariness and heaviness while this process is go- 
ing on ; but I do not, will not doubt, that you will taste these 
fruits, and fmd them very sweet. One of the hard things about 
bereavement is the physical prostration and listlessness which 
make it next to impossible to pray, and quite impossible to feel 
the least interest in anything. We must bear this as a part of 
the pain, believing that it will not last forever, for nothing but 
God's goodness does. How I wish you were near us, and that 
we could meet and talk and pray together over all that has 
saddened our lives, and made heaven such a blessed reality ! 

There is not much to tell about the last hours of our dear sis- 
ter. She had rallied a good deal, and they all thought she was 
getting well ; but the day after Christmas typhoid symptoms 
began to set in. I saw her on the Monday following, found her 
greatly depressed, and did not stay long. On Saturday morn- 
ing, we got a dispatch we should have received early on New 
Year's day, saying she v/as sinking. We hurried out, found her 
flushed and bright, but near her end, having no pulse at either 
wrist, and her hands and feet cold. She had had a distressing 
day and night, but now seemed perfectly easy ; knew us, gave 
us a glad welcome, reminded me that I had promised to go 
with her to the end, and kissed us heartily. Every time we 
went near her she gave us such a glad smile that it was hard m 
believe she was going so soon. She talked incessantly, wUh 
no signs of debility, but it was the restlessness of apprxichiiig 
death. 

At three in the afternoon they all came into the room, af 
they always did at that hour. She said a few things, and evi- 
deatly began to lose her sight, for as Lewis was about to leave 
the room, she said, "Good-night, L.," and then to me, "Why 



264 THE TIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

Lizzy dear, you are not going to stay all night ? " I said, " Oh 
yes, don't you know I promised to stay with A., who will be so 
lonely?" She looked pleased, but greatly surprised, her mind 
being so weak, and in a few seconds she laid her restless hands 
on her breast, her eyes became fixed, and the last gentle breaths 
began to come and go. "Is the doctor here?" she asked. We 
told her no, and then Mr. S. and the nurse, who were close 
each side of her, began to repeat a verse or two of Scripture ; 
then seeing she was apparently too far gone to hear, Mr. S. 
leaned over and whispered, " My darling ! " She made no re- 
sponse, on which he said, " She can make no response," and she 
said, " But I hear," gave one or two more gentle little breaths, 
and was gone. I forgot to say that after her e3^es were fixed, 
hearing Mr. S. groan, she stopped dyings turned and gave a parting 
look ! I never saw an easier death, nor such a bright face up to 
the very last. One of the doctors coming in, in the morning, was 
apparently overcome by the extraordinary smile she gave him, for 
he turned away immediately without a word, and left the house. 
I staid, as they wished me to do, till Monday night, when I 
came home quite used up. Your sorrow, and the sorrow at 
Brooklyn, and now this one, have come one after another until 
it seemed as if there was no end to it ; such is life, and we must 
bear it patiently, knowing the end will be the more joyful for 
all that saddened the way. 

I shall always let you know if anything of special interest 
occurs in the church or among ourselves. After loving you so 
many years, I am not likely to forget you now. The addresses 
at Mrs. S.'s funeral will probably be published, and we will 
send you a copy. Mr. P. is bearing up bravely, but feels the 
listlessness of which I spoke, and finds sermonising hard work. 
He joins me in love to you. Do write often. 

On coming home from church on Sunday afternoon I found 
To Miss ^"^ ^^ ^^^ Brooklyn family waiting to tell us that an- 
FMza A. other of the girls was very ill, that they were all worn 
XcwYork, oi^it and nearly frantic, and asking if she might be 
'^iSSg^' brought here to be put under the care of some Ger- 
man doctor, as Dr. Smith had given her up. In the 
midst of my sorrow for the poor mother, I thought of myself. 
How could I, who had not been allowed to invite Miss Lyman 



SrFPPING HEAVENWARD. 26c 

here, undertake this terrible care? You know what a fearfu 
disease it is — how many convulsions they have ; but you don'* 
know the harm it did me just seeing poor Jennie P. in onr;. 
Yesterday I tried hard to let God manage it, but I know I 
ivis/ied He would manage it so as to spare me ; it takes so little 
to pull mc down, and so little to destroy my health. But I 
wasn't in a good frame, couldn't write a Percy for the Ob- 
server, got a letter from some house down town, asking me 
to write them Susy books, got a London Daily News contain- 
ing a nice notice of Little Lou, but nought consoled me.' In 
fact, I dawdled so long over H.'s lessons, which I always hear 
after breakfast, that I had not my usual time to pray ; and that, 
of itself, would spoil any day. After dinner came two of the 
Prentiss sisters to say that Dr. [Horatio] Smith said Eva's one 
chance of getting well was to come here for change of air and 
scene — would i take her and her mother? Of course I would. 
They then told me that Dr. Smith had said his brother's case 
was perfectly hopeless. This upset me. My feet turned into 
ice and my head into a ball of fire. As soon as they left, T had 
the spare room arranged, and then went out and walked til 
dark to cool off my head, but to so little purpose that I had a 
bad night ; the news about Prof. S. was so dreadful. Mr. 
Prentiss was appalled, too. I had to make this a day of rest — 
not daring to work after such a night. Got up at seven or so, 
took my bath, rung the bell for prayers at twenty minutes of 
eight. After breakfast heard H.'s lessons, then read the joih 
».hapter of Matthew^ and mused long on Christ's coming to 
minister — not to be ministered unto. Prayed for poor Mrs. 
Smith and a good many weary souls, and felt a little bit better. 
Then v ent down to Randolph's at the request of a lady, who 
wanted him to sell some books she had got up for a benevolent 
object. He said he'd take twelve. Then to the Smiths, bur- 

• The following is part of the notice in the London Daily News : 

"We are, unfortunately, ignorant of Little Susy's Six Birthdays, but if thai boot be 
anything like as good as the charming volunr.e before us by the same author, ycloper! 

Littie Lou's Sayings and Doings, it deserves an extraordinary popularity Liltte 

Lett, is one of the most natural stories in the world, and reads more like a mother's 
record of her child's sayings and doings than hke a fictitious narrative. Little Lou, be 
it remarked, is a true baby throughout, ir^-^tead of being a precocious little prig, a? so 
many good children are in print. The child's love for his mother and his motlier's love 
for him is described in the prettiest way possible." 



266 THE LIFE OF MRS. PFENTISS. 

denecl with my sad secret. Got home tired and depressed 
Tried to get to sleep and couldn't, tried to read and couldn't. 

At last they came with the sick girl, and one look at the 
poor, half-fainting child, and her mother's "Nobody in the 
world but you would have let us come," made them welcome ; 
and I have rejoiced ever since that God let them come. One of 
the first things they said took my worst burden off my back ; 
the whole story about Prof. Smith was a dream ! Can you 
conceive mv relief? We had dinner. Eva ate more than she 
had done for a long time. We had a long talk with her mother 
after dinner; then I went up to the sick-room and stayed an 
hour or so ; then had a call ; then ran out to carry a book to a 
widowed lady, that I hoped would comfort her ; then home, 
and with Eva till tea-time. Then had some comfort in laying 
all these cares and interests in those loving Arms that are 
alwavs so ready to take them in. I enjoy praying in the morn- 
ing best, however— perhaps because less tired ; but sometimes 
I think it is owing to a sort of night-preparation for it ; I mean, 
in the wakeful times of night and early morning. 

Wednesday, 17//^.— While I was writing the above all the Brook- 
lyn Prentisses went to bed, and we New York Prentisses went 
to the Sunday-school rooms next door to a church-gathering. 
There are three rooms that can be thrown together, and they 
were bright and fragrant with flowers, most of which the 
young men sent me afterwards, exquisite things. I had a 
precious talk with Dr. Abbot, one of whose feet, to say the 
least, is already on the topmost round. I only wish he was a 
woman. The church was open, and we all went in and listened 
to some fine music. Coming out I said to a gentleman who 
approached me, " How is little baby ? " " Which little baby ? " 
''Why, the youngest." "Oh, we haven't any baby." And lo ! 
I had mistaken my mar ! Imagine how he felt and how / felt ! 
We got home at eleven p.m., and so ended my day of rest. 1 
have 540 things to say, but there is so much going on that I 
shall defraud you of them— aren't you glad? Have you read 
the " Gates Ajar " ? I have, wdth real pain. I do not think you 
will be so shocked at it as I am, but hope you don't like it. II 
is full of talent, but has next to no Christ in it, and my heaven 
is full of Him. I have finished Faber. How queer he is with 
his 3's and 5's and 6's and 7's ! I feel all done up into little 



S r E PPT .\ G H i: A V EN WA R D. 267 

sums in addition, and that's about all I know of 1 lyself — he's 
bewildered me so. There are fine things in it, and I took the 
liberty of making a wee cross against some of them, which v(.u 
can rub out. Miss L. sent me another of his books, which I am 
reading now — "All for Jesus." 

We were gladdened early this morning by the arrival of 

To Mrs, your letter, and the good news it contained. I had a 

B. ^Smith, dreadful fright on the day you reached Soutliampton. 

^March'^t' jNIr. Moore sent up a cable dispatch announcing the 

1S69. fact, and as it came directed to both of us, and I sup- 
posed it to be from you, I thought some terrible thing had 
happened. I paraded down to M. with your letter, and she, at 
the same time, paraded up here with the one to her and the 
rest. So we got all the news there was, and longed for more. 
I hope the worst is now over. I have just got home from a 
visit of four days and nights to Miss Lyman. I enjoyed it ex- 
ceedingly, and wish I could tell you all about it, but can't in a 
letter. She has turns of looking absolutely aged,, and seems a 
good deal of the time in a perfect worry, I don't know what 
about. Otherwise she is better than last summer. I never saw 
her when at work before, and perhaps she always appears so. 
We had two or three good rousing laughs, however, and that 
did us both good. I did not know she was so fond of llowers ; 
she buys them and keeps loads of them about her parlors, 
library, and bedroom. What a world it is there ! I only wish 
she was happier in her work, but perhaps if we c<nild get be- 
hind the scenes, we should find all human workers have their 
sorrows and misgivings and faintings. According to her I had 
an "inquiry meeting" once or twice ; believe it if you can and 
dare. It was certainly very pleasant to get into such an intel- 
ligent Christian atmosphere, and on the whole I've got rathei 
converted to Vassar. 

I have been greatly delighted with a present of one of my 
father's cuff-buttons (vvhich I well remember), and a lock of his 

hair I haven't got anything more to say. Oh, Mrs. 

left that on her card here the other day, and we called on her 
this afternoon. What a jolly old lady she is ! Of course, imy- 
body could believe in perfection who was as fat and well as 
she ! 



268 TITE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

If I should send you a letter every time I send you a 
To Mrs thought, you would be quite overwhelmed with them. 
Leonard, Now that Mrs. S. has gone awav, and some of mv 

New York^ .. . ' , 

April I, pressing cares are over, I miss you more than ever 
1869. ^y^ have had a good deal to sadden us this winter, 
beginning with your sorrow, which was also ours ; and Eva 
P.'s death, occurring as it did in our house, was a distressing 
one. She was here about a fortnight, and the first week came 
down to her meals, though she kept in her room the rest of the 
time. On Tuesday night of the second week she was at the 
tea-table, and played a duet with A. after tea. Soon after she 
was taken with distress for breath, and was never in bed again, 
but sat nearly double in a chair, with one of us supporting her 
head. It was agonizing suffering to witness, and the care of 
her was more laborious than anyone can conceive, who did not 
witness or participate in it. We had at last to have six on 
hand to relieve each other. She died on Saturday, after four 
terrible days and nights. We knew she would die here when 
they first proposed her coming, but did not like to refuse her 
last desire, and are very glad we had the privilege of minister- 
ing to her last wants For you I desire but one thing — a 

full possession of Christ. Let us turn away our eyes from 
everything that does not directly exalt Him in our affections ; 
we are poor Vv'ithout Him, no matter what our worldly advan- 
tages are ; rich with Him when stripped of all besides. Still I 
know you are passing through deep waters, and at times must 
well nigh sink. But your loving Saviour will not let you sink, 
and He never loved you so well as He does now. How often I 
long to fly to you in your lonely hours ! But I can not, and so 
I turn these longings into prayers. I hope you pray for me, 
too. You could not give me anything I should value so much, 
and it is a great comfort to me to know that you love me. I 
care more to be loved than to be admired, don't you ? I hope 
that by next winter you may feel that you can come and see 
lis ; I want to see you, not merely to write to you and get an- 
swers. I send you a picture of our nest at Dorset. Good-bye. 

I opened your letter in the street, and was at once confronted 
To Miss with a worldlv-lookinp* bit of silk ! How can you ! 

R.A. War- „^, ^ , 'r,, , ., -, 

ner. New Why don t you loUow my example and dress m sack- 
^'zot'ileg.''' ^^^^^ ^"^ ^^^^s ^ ^ think, however, if you will be 



STFI'I'ING 1 1 K.W E^ WARD. 



269 



worldly you have done it very prettily, and on the whole 
don't know that it is any wickeder than I have been in 
translating a "dramatic poem" in five acts from the German, 
only you've got your dress done and I'm only half through my 
play ; and there's no knowing how bad I shall get before I am 
through. I wonder if you are sitting by an open window, as I 
am, and roasting at that ? I had a drive with A. and M. through 
the Park yesterday, and saw stacks of hyacinths in bloom, and 
tulips and violets and dandelions ; a willow-tree not far from 
my window has put on its tender green, and summer seems 
close at hand. I have been to an auction and got cheated, as I 
might have known I should ; and the other day I had my 
pocket picked. As to " Gates Ajar," most people are enchanted 
with it ; but Miss Lyman regards it as I do, and so do some 
other elect ladies. I have just written to see if she will come 
down and get a little rest, now the weather is so fine. Mr. P. 
has gone to Dorset to be gone all the week, and I am buying 
up what is to be bought, begrudging every cent ! mean wretch 
that I am. 

I have looked through and read parts of " Patience Strong's 
Outings " — an ugly title, and a transcendental style, but beauti- 
ful in conception, and taken off the stilts, in execution. 1 do 
not like the cant of Unitarians any better than they like ours, 
biu I like what is elevating in any sect. I have had a present 
of a lot of table-linen, towels, etc., for Dorset, and feel a good 
deal like a young housekeeper. I wonder how soon you go 
back to Northampton ? How queer it must be to be able to 
float round ! It is a pity you could not float to New York, and 
get a good hugging from this old woman. We expect 250 min- 
isters here in May at general assembly (I ought to have spelt it 
with a big G and a big A). My dear child, what makes you 
get blue? I don't much believe in any blue devils save those 
that live in the body and send sallies into the mind. Perhaps 
I should, though, if I had not a husband and children to kx-k 
after ; how little one can judge for another ! 



270 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 



II. 

How she earned her Sleep. Writing for young Converts about speaking the Truth. 
Meetin- of the General Assembly in the Church of the Covenant. Reunion, D.D.s 
and Strawberry Short-cake. "Enacting the Tiger." Getting ready for Dorset. 
Letters. 

This year was one of the busiest of her life; and it were 
hard to say which was busiest, her body or mind; her hand, 
heart, or brain. This relentless activity was caused in part 
by the increasing difificulty of obtaining sleep. Incessant work 
seemed to be, in her case, a sort of substitute for natural rest 
and a solace for the loss of it. She alludes to this constant 
struggle with insomnia in a letter to Miss Warner, dated 
May 9th : 

If you knew the whole story you would not envy my power 
of driving about so much. You can lie down and sleep when 
you please ; I must earn my sleep by hard work, which uses up 
so much time that I wonder I ever accomplish anything. I be- 
lieve that God arranges our various burdens and fits them to 
our backs, and that He sets off a loss against a gain, so that 
while some seem more favored than others, the mere aspect 
deceives. I have to make it my steady object throughout each 
day, so to spend time and strength as to obtain sleep enough 
to carry me through the next ; it is thus I have acquired the 
habit of taking a large amount of exercise, which keeps me out 
of doors when I am longing to be at work within. You say I 
seem to be always in a flood of joy ; well, that too is seems. I 
think I know what joy in God means, though perhaps I only 
begin to know ; but I am a weak creature ; I fall into snares 
and get entangled — not nearly so often as I used to do, but 
still do get into them. I have a perfect horror of them ; the 
thought of having anything come between God and my soid 
makes me so restless and uneasy that I hardly know which vv'ay 
".o turn. I have been very much absorbed of late in various in- 
terests, and am sure thoy htive contrived to occupy me toe 
much ; pressing cares do sometimes, and oh, how ashamed J 
am ! 

Do write for young inquirers, if )'our heart prompts you tc 



STEPPING HEAVENWARD. 27 1 

do it. I don't know what to think of your suggestion that ir 
writing for young converts I should impress it upon them tc 
speak the truth. It seems to me just like telling them not to 
commit murder ; and that would be absurd. Do Christians 
cheat and tell lies ? I have a great aversion to writing abou* 
such things ; if children are not trained at home to be upright 
and full of integrity, it can't be that books can rectify that 
loss. You .nay reply that home-training is defective in thou- 
sands of cases ; yes, that is true, but I have a feeling that truth 
and honesty must spring from a soil early prepared for them, 
and that a young person who is in the habit of falsehood is not 
a Christian and needs to g'o back to first principles. I can't 
endure subterfuges, misrepresentation, and the like ; the whole 
foundation looks wrong when people indulge themselves in 
them, and to say to a Christian, "I hope you are truthful," is 
to my mind as if I should say to him, " I hope you wash your 
face and hands every day." Now if your observation says I 
am wrong, let's know ; I am open to conviction. 

It has just come to me that the true way to enjoy writing 
and to have you enjoy iiearing, is to keep a sort of 
H. B.' journal, where little things will have a chance to speak 
Jlw'york, toi* themselves. 

May-zi,, We ai-g now in the midst of (jcneral Asscmblv. 
1S69. . . .' 
Mr. Stearns is here, and we have sprinklings ot minis- 
ters to dine and to tea at all sorts of odd hours I can't 

help loving what is Christlike in people, whether 1 like their 
natural characters or not ; after all, what else is there in the 
world worth much love .^ My Katy seems to be ploughing her 
way with more or less success, and making friends and foes. 
You, who helped me fashion her, would be interested in the 
letters I get from wives, showing that the want of demonstra- 
tion in men is a wide-spread evil, under which women do groan 

being burdened. Eittj-e nous, Mrs. Dr. is one, and I got a 

letter to-day from Michigan to the same effect. We are having 
delightful weather for the meetings. Yesterday morning Dr. 
John Hall preached in our church, and it was crammed full to 

overflowing Lew. S.' has decided to study theology. 

We are all glad. He and I have got quite acquainted of late 

' Now Irofessor of Theology at Ranjjur. 



2/2 THE LIFE OF xMRS. PRENTISS. 

and talk most learnedly together. Did I tell you I have trans 
lated a German dramatic poem in live acts ? Miss Anna Nev- 
ins says I have done it extremely well. I don't know about 
that, but my whole soul got into it somehow, and I did not 
know whether I was in the body or out of it for two or three 
weeks. I wish I could do things decently and in order. There 
is to be a great party at Apollo Hall this evening for both As- 
semblies. I am going and expect Id get tired to death. 

26^/1. — It was a brilliant scene at Apollo Hall. Everybody 
was there, and the hall was finely adapted to the purpose of 
accommodating the 2,000 people present. The speeches were 
very poor. I went to the prayer-meeting this morning. The 
church was full, galleries and all, and the spirit was excellent. 
Many men shed tears in speaking for reunion, and, from what 
Mr. Stearns reports of the meeting of the Committee last 
night, union may be considered as good as restored. You will 
hear nothing else from me ; it is all I hear talked about. Mon- 
day^ 31. — Hot as need be. Dr. B., of Brooklyn, dined with us ; 
said li' never ate strawberry short-cake before, and was read- 
ing Katy. It is awful to think how many D.D.s are doing it 
(eating short-cake, I mean, of course !) Hope the Assembly 
will wind up to-night. June 5. — We are so glad you have got 
to La Tour and find it so pleasant there, and that you have 
met Dr. and Mrs. Guthrie, and that they have met you instead 
of the blowsy-towsy American women, who make one so 
ashamed of them. If I wasn't going to Dorset, I should wish I 
were going where you are ; but then, you see, I am going to 

Dorset !....! have been to the Central Park with Mrs. , 

who talked in one steady stream all the way. I was sleepy and 
the carriage very noisy ; and take it altogether, what a farce 
life is sometimes ! the intercourse of human beings outsides 
touching outsides, the heart and soul lying to all intents and 
purposes as dead as a door-nail. Do you ever feel mentally 
and spiritually alone in the world? Perhaps everybody does. 

I concluded you had gone and died and got buried without 
^ .,. letting me know, when your letter reached me via 

To Miss ^ 

F. A. Dorset. What possessed you to send it there when 

Ne^t^Vaik 3'^^^ knew, you naughty thing ! that I was having 

^"Jl^"^' General Assembly, I can't imagine; but I supposCj 

being a Congregationalist, you thought General As- 



STKl'i^INCi IIEAVExWVARD. 273 

sembly wasn't nothing, and that I could entertain squads of 
D.D.s for a fortnight more or less, just as well at Dorset as I 
could here. My dear, read the papers and go in the way you 
should go, and behave yourself ! As if 250 ministers haven't 
worn streaks in the grass round the church, haven't (some of 
'em) been here to dinner and eaten my strawberry short-cake 
and cottage puddings and praised my coffee and drank two 
cups apiece all round, and as if I hadn't been set up on end foi 
those of 'em to look at who are reading Katy, and as if going 
furiously to work, after they'd all gone, didn't use me up and 
send me "lopping" down on sofas, sighing like a what's-its- 
name. Well, well ; the ignorance of you country folks and the 
wisdom of us city folks ! We hope to get to Dorset by the 17th 
of this month ; it depends upon how many interruptions I have 
and how many days I have to lie by. I can't imagine why I 
break down so, for I don't know when I've been so well as 
during this spring ; but Mr. P. and A. say I work like a tiger, 
and I s'pose I do without knowing it. I am so glad you had a 
pleasant Sunday. No doubt you had more bodily strength with 
which to enjoy spiritual things. A weak body hinders prayer 
and praise when the heart would sing, if it were not in fetters 
that cramp and exhaust it. 

Monday. — To-day I have been enacting the tiger again, and 
worked furiously. A. half scolds and half entreats, but I can't 
help it ; if I work I work, and so there it is. I have bought a 
dinner-set, and had a long visit from my old Mary, who wept 
over and kissed me, and am going out to call on Mrs. Woolsey 
this evening. To-morrow A.'s scholars are to come and make 
an address to her and give her a picture. She is not to know 
it till they arrive. It is really cold after the very hot weather, 
and some are freezing and some have internal pains. I wish 
you could have seen me this forenoon at work in the attic 
— a mass of dust, feathers, and perplexity. I got hold of one 
of my John's innumerable trunks of papers, and found among 
them the MSS. of several of my books laid up in lavender, 
which I pitched into the ash-barrel. I suppose he thinks I 
may distinguish myself some time, and that the discerning 
world will be after a scratch of my gifted pen ! Have you 
read "Gates Off the Hinges".? The next thing will be 
There Aint no Gates." 
18 



274 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

III. 

The new Home in Dorset. What it became to her. Letters from there. 

A NOTABLE incident of this year was the entering upon 
housekeeping at Dorset under her own roof. As is usual in 
such cases, the process was somewhat wearisome and trying, but 
the result was most happy. All the bright anticipations, with 
which the event had been so long looked forward to, were 
more than realised. For the next ten summers the Dorset 
home was to her a sweet haven of rest from the agitations, 
cares, and turmoil of New York life. It seemed at the time a 
venturesome, almost a rash thing, to build it ; but when she 
left it for her home above, the building of the house seemed 
to have been an inspiration of Providence. While contributing 
greatly to her happiness, it probably added several years to 
her life. The four months which she passed each season at 
Dorset were spent largely in the open air, and in such varied 
and pleasant exercise as exerted the most healthful, sooth- 
ing influence upon both body and soul. It was just this fruit 
her husband hoped might, by the blessing of Heaven, blossom 
out of the new home, and in later years he used often to say 
to her, theit if the place should be of a sudden annihilated, 
he should still feel that it had paid for itself many times over. 

How many times during the last month I have been remind- 
To Mrs ^^ ^^ y°^^^ saying, you had lived through the agony 
isviith, of getting your house ready to rent. I can sum up 
>/vi9, all I have been through by saying that almost every- 
'^- thing has turned out the reverse of what I expect- 
ed. In the first place, I broke down just as we were to 
start to come here, and had to be left behind to pick up life 
enough to undertake the journey ; then the car we chartered 
did not get here for a week, and nobody but A. had anything 
to wear, and all my (lowers died for want of water. The car, too, 
was broken into and my idols of tin pans all taken, with some 
other things, and when it did arrive it was unpacked, and our 
g0(;ds brought here, in a regular deluge, the like of which has 



STEPPING IIE.WKXWARI). 



275 



not been seen since the days of Noah. For days everything 
was in dire confusion ; but for all that our own home was de- 
lightful, and we had the most outrageous appetites you ever 
heard of. George is in ecstasies with his house, his land, his 

pig, and his horse I hope you are not sick and tired of 

all this rigmarole ; it isn't in human nature to move into a 
house of its own and talk of anything else. I got a warm- 
hearted letter a few days ago from the cit)^ of Milwaukee, from 
an unknow^n western sister, beginning, "Whom not having 
seen I love," and gomg on to say that Katy describes herself 
and her lot exactly, only she had no Martha on hand. I get 
so many such testimonies. I am going to spare your eyes and 
brains by winding up this epistle and going to bed. 1 do not 
think your husband ought to come home till he has recovered 
his power of sleeping. I know how to pity him, if anybody 
does, and I know how loss of sleep cripples. Good-night, dear 

child. 

" God bless me anrl my wife ; 
You and your wife, 
Us four 
And no more." 

Your last letter endeared you to me more than ever, and I 
To Mrs ^'^^'^'^ longed to answer it, but we have been in such n 
Leojiard, state of confusion that writinpr has been a task. The 

Dorset, . , . . , , 

August 2,, whole house has been painted inside and out since we 
^^^^' entered it, and I dare say you know what endless up- 
roar the flitting from room to room to accommodate painters, 
causes. We have just been admitted to our parlor, but it is in 
no order, and the dining-room is still piled with trunks. But 
the house is lovely, and we shall feel well repaid for the severe 
labor it has cost us, when it is done and we can settle down in 
it. I write to ask you to send me by express what numbers of 
Stepping Heavenward you have on hand. I would not give 
you the trouble to do this if I could get them in any other 
way, but I can not, as all back numbers are gone, and the copy 
I have has been borrowed and worn, so as to be illegible in 
many places. Randolph is to publish the work and says he 
wants it soon. T am constantly receiving testimonies as to its 
usefulness, and hope it will do good to many who have not 
seen It in the Advance. 



276 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

How I do long to see you ! I think of you many times 
every day, and thank God that He enables you to glorify Him 
in bearing your great sorrow. Sometimes I feel as if I must 
see Mr. L.'s kind face once more, but I remind myself that by 
patiently waiting a little while, I shall see it and the faces of all 
the sainted ones who have gone before. Next to faith in God 
comes patience ; I see that more and more, and few possess 
enough of either to enable them to meet the day of bereave- 
ment without dismay. We are constantly getting letters from 
afflicted souls that can not see one ray of light, and keep reiter- 
ating, "I am not reconciled." How fearful it must be to kick 
thus against the pricks, already sharp enough ! I believe 
fully with you that there is no happiness on earth, as rhere is 
none in heaven, to be compared with that of losing all things 
to possess Christ. I look back to two points in my life as 
standing out from all the rest of it as seasons of peculiar joy, 
and they are the points where I was crushed under the weight 
of sorrow. How wonderful this is, how incomprehensible to 
those who have not learned Christ ! Do write me of tener ; you 
are very dear to me, and your letters always welcome. I love 
you for magnifying the Lord in the midst of your distress ; 
you could not get so into my heart in any other way. 

Half of your chickens are safely here, well and bright, and 

To Mrs settled I hope, for the summer. A., and M., who seems 

Smi/h, as joyous as a lark, are like Siamese twins, with the 

AtZnst\, advantage of untying at night and sleeping in differ- 

^^^' ent beds. I have not been well, and did not go to 
church to-day ; but Prof. Robinson of Rochester, N. Y., preach- 
ed a very superior sermon, George says. They have gone to 
our woods together. We took tea a few nights ago at the 
Pratts, being invited to meet him and Mrs. R. They asked 
many questions about you and your husband. We fmd the 
Pratts charming neighbors in their way, modest, kind, and 
good. They take the Advance, read Katy, and like it. 

Aii^ 2 \st. — As we have only had sixteen in our family of late, 
T have not had much to do. Yesterday we made up a party to 
the quarry and had just got seated, twenty-nine in all, to eat 
a very nice dinner, when it began to rain in floods. Each 
grabbed his plate, if he could, and rushed to a blacksmith's 



STHPIMXC llKAN'KNWAkI). 2/7 

Shop not far off ; twenty or thirty workmen rushed tliere too, 
and there we were, cooped up in the dirt, to finish our meal as 
we best could. It soon stopped pouring and we had a delight- 
ful drive home. Mr. B. F. B., with two of his boys, was with us. 
lie is charmed with our house and its views. Katy has made 
her last appearance in the Advance, but I keep getting letters 
nbout her from all quarters, and the editors say they have had 
hundreds.' H. has caught up with Hal and they are exactly 
of a height, and I feel as if I had a dear little pair of twins. 
Last Sunday evening the three boys laid their heads in my 
lap together, all alike content. 



IV. 

Return to To%vn. Domestic Changes. Letters, " My Heart sides with God in every- 
thing." Visiting among tlie Poor. *' ConHict isn't Sin." Publication of .57^/////^ 
Heavenward. Her Misgivings about it. How it was received. Reminiscences by 
Miss Eliza A. Warner. Letters. The Rev. Wlieelock Craig. 

Early in •October she returned to town and began to 
make ready for the departure of her eldest daughter to Eu- 
rope, where she was to pass the next year with the famiU' of 
Prof. Smith. The younger children had thus far been taught 

' The following is an extract from a letter of one of the editors of The Advance, Mr. 
J. B. T. Marsh, dated Chicago, August lo, 1S69 :— " You will notice that the story is com- 
pleted this week ; I wish it could have continued six months longer. I liave several times 
been on the point of writing you to express my own personal satisfaction — and more than 
satisfaction — in reading it, and to acquaint you with the great unanimity and volume of 
praise of it, which has reached us from our readers. I do not think anything since the 
National Lia and ' Uncle Tom's Cabin ' times l.as been more heartily received by newsj- 
paper readers. I am sure it will have a great sale if rightly brought before the puljlic. 
A publisher from London was in our office the other day, signifying a desire lo make 
some arrangement to bring it out there. I have heard almost no unfavorable criticism of 
the story — nothing which you could make serviceable in its revision. I have heard Dr. P. 
criticise Ernest — of course the character and not your portrayal. l"or myself 1 consider 
the character a natural and consistent one. Perhaps few men are found who are quite sc 
blind to a wife's wants and yet so devoted, but— I don't know what the wives might say. 
We have had hundreds of letters of wliich the expression has been, 'We quarrel to se« 
who shall have the first reading of the storj'.' I congratulate you most heartily upon its 
great success and the great good it has done and will yet do. I think if you should cvci 
come West my wife would overturn almost any stone for the sake of welcoming you tc 
the hospitality of our cottage on the Lake Michigan shore." 



278 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

by their sister, and her leaving home was fraught with no little 
trial both to them and to the mother. 

I car. fully sympathise with the sad toss you are in about 
To Mrs. staying abroad another year, but we feel that there is 
^yori^oSt^^ doubt you have decided wisely and well. But the 
der 12. bare mention of your settling down at Vevay has 
driven us all wild. What hallucination could you have been 
laboring under ? Why, your husband would go off the handle 
in a week ! To be sure it is beautiful for situation as Mount 
Zion itself, but one can't live on beauty ; one must have life 
and action, and stimulus ; in other words, human beings. 
They're all horrid (except you), but we can't do without 'em. 
What I went through at lonely Genevrier ! 

" Oh Solitude, where are the chamis 
That sages have seen in thy face ! " 

We took it for granted that you would settle in some Ger- 
man city, near old friends ; it is true, they mayn't be all you 
want, but anything is better than nothing, and you would stag- 
nate and moulder all away at Vevay. What is there there ? 
Why, a lake and some mountains, and you can!t spend a year 
staring at them. Well, I dare say light will be let in upon you. 
I hope A. will behave herself ; you must rule it over her with a 
rod of iron (as if you could!), and make her stand round. 
Her going plunges us into a new world of care and anxiety 
and tribulation ; we have thrust our children out into, or on 
to, the great ocean, and are about ready to sink with them. If 
I could sit down and cry, it would do me lots of good, but I 
can't. Then how am I to spare my twin-boy, and my A. and 
my M. ? Who is to keep me well snubbed ? Who is to tell me 
what to wear? Who is to keep Darby and Joan from settling 
down into two fearful old pokes ? 

Your husband suggests that "if I have a husband, etc." I 
have had one with a vengeance. He has worked like seventeen 
mad dogs all summer, and I have hardly laid eyes on him. 
When I have, it has been to fight with him ; he would come in 
with a hoe or a rake or a spade in his hand, and find me with 
a broom, a shovel, or a pair of tongs in mine, and without a 
ivord wc would pitch in and have an encounter. Of all the 



STEPPING HEAVENWARD. 2/0 

aggravating creatures, hasn't he been aggravating ! Some- 
times I thought he had run raving distracted, and sometimes 
I dare say, he thouglit I had gone melancholy mad. He per 
sists to this day that the work did him good, and tliat he en 
joyed his summer. Well, maybe he did ; I suppose he knows. 
How glad I am for you that you are to have the children 
go to you. It seems to be exactly the right thing. I hope to 
get a copy of Katy to send by the girls, but can't think of any- 
thing else. As A. is to be where you are, you will probably be 
kept well posted in the doings of our family. I do hope she will 
not be a great addition to your cares, but have some misgiv- 
ings as to the effect so long absence from home may have upon 
her. What a world this is for shiftings and siftings ! 

I always thought George McDonald a little audacious, 
To G S P though I like him in the main. There is a fallac}" in 
October, this cavil, you may depend. Some years ago, when I 
was a little befogged by plausible talk, Dr. Skinner 
came to our house, got into one of his best moods, and 
preached a regular sermon on the glory of God, that set me 
all right again. I am not skilled in argument, but my heart 
sides with God in everything, and my conception of His char- 
acter is such a beautiful one that I feel that He can not err, I 
do not like the expression, " He's aye thinking about his own 
glory" (I quote from memor}-) ; it belittles the real fact, and 
almost puts the Supreme Being on a level with us poor mortals 
The more time we spend upon our knees, in real communion 
with God, the better we shall comprehend His wonderful 
nature, and how impossible it is to submit that nature to the. 
rules by which we judge human beings. Every turn in life 

brings me back to this — jnore prayer I shall go v/itli 

much pleasure to see Mrs. G. and maj^ God give me some good 
word to say to her. I almost envy you your sphere of useful- 
ness, but unless I give up mine, can not get fully into it. I 
want you to know that next to being with my Saviour, I love 
to be with His sufferers ; so that you can be sure to remember 

me, when you have any on your heart P. S. I have hunted 

up Mrs. G. and had such an interesting talk with her that she has 
hardly been out of my mind since. It is a very unusual case, 
ind the fact that her husband is a Jew, and loves her witl' 



28o THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

such real romance, is an obstacle in her way to Christ. When 
you can get a little spare time I wish you would run in and let 
us talk her case over. I'm ever so glad that I'm growing old 
every day, and so becoming better fitted to be the dear and 
loving friend to young people I want to be. 

I wish we both loved our Saviour better, and could do more 
for Him. The days in which I do nothing specifically for Him 
seem such meagre, such lost days. You seemed to think, the 
last time I saw you, that you were not so near Him as you 
were last year. I think we can't always know our own state. 
It does not follow that a season of severe conflict is a sign of 
estrangement from God. Perhaps we are never dearer to Him 
than when we hate ourselves most, and fancy ourselves intoler- 
able in His sight. Conflict isnt sin. 

I hear with great concern that Miss Lyman's health is so 
To Miss E ^^ch worse, that she is about to leave Vassar. Is 
A. Warner, this true ? I Can not say I should be very sorry if I 

New York, ,,,, , . . n-i i.-i x 

October ii, should hear she was gomg to be called up higher. It 
^^^' seems such a blessed thing to finish up one's work 
when the Master says we may, and going to be with Him. I 
can fully sympathise with the feeling that made Mrs. Graham 
say, as she closed her daughter's eyes, "I wish you joy, my 
darling ! " But I should want to see her before she went ; 
that would be next best to seeing her after she got back. If 
you meet with a dear little book called " The Melody of the 
23d Psalm," do read it ; it is by Miss Anna Warner, and shows 
great knowledge of, and love for, the Bible. In a few weeks I 
shall be able to send you a copy of Stepping Heavenward. 

We have been home rather more than a week and Ihe house 
is all upside down, outwardly and inwardly. For A. sails for 
Europe on the 21st with M. and Hal Smith, to be gone a year, 
and this involves sending the other children to school, and 
various trying changes of the sort. Tossing my long sheltered 
lambs into the world has cost me inexpressible pain ; only a 
mother can understand how much and why ; and they, on their 
part, go into it shrinking and quivering in every nerve. Tc 
V their father, as well as to me, this has been a time of sore trial 
and we are doing our best to keep each other up amid the dis 



STEPPING HEAVENWARD. 28 1 

coiiragements and temptations that confront us. For each new 
phase of life brings more or less of both. 

Stepping Heavenward was published toward the end o( 
October, having appeared already as a serial in the Chicago 
Advance. The first number of the serial was printed February 
4, 1869. Thev/ork was planned and the larger part of it com- 
posed during the winter and spring of 1867-8. Referring 
more especially to this part of it, she once said to a friend : 
'' Every word of that book was a prayer, and seemed to conie 
of itself. I never knew how it was written, for my heart and 
hands were full of something else." By '' something else " she 
had in mind the care of little Francis. The ensuing summer 
the manuscript was taken with her to Dorset, carefully revised 
and finished before her return to the city. In revising it she 
had the advantage of suggestions made by her friends, Miss 
Warner and Miss Lyman, both of them Christian ladies of the 
best culture and of rare good sense. 

Notwithstanding the favor with which the work had been 
received as issued in The Advance, Mrs. Prentiss had great 
misgiving about its success — a misgiving that had haunted 
her while engaged in writing it. But all doubt on the subject 
was soon dispelled : 

The response to "Stepping Heavenward" was instant and general. 
Others of her books were enjoyed, praised, laughed over, but this one was 
taken by tired hands into secret places, pored over by eyes dim with tears 
and its lessons prayed out at many a Jabbok. It was one of those books 
which sorrowing, Mary-like women read to each other, and which lured 
many a bustling Martha from the fretting of her care-cumbered life to pon- 
der the new lesson of rest in toil. It was one of those books of which 
people kept a lending copy, that they might enjoy the uninterrupted com- 
panionship of their own. The circulation of the book was very ku-ge. Not 
to speak of the thousands which were sold here, it went through numerous 
editions in England. From England it passed into Australia. It fell into 
the family of an aftlicted Swi s pastor, and the comfort which it brought to 
that stricken household led to its translation into Frencii by one of the pas- 
tor's daughters. It passed through I know not how many editions in 
French.' In Germany it came into the hands of an invalid lady who beg- 

' Marchant vers le del is the title of the !•" reach translation. 



282 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

ged the privilege of translating it. The first word of a favoi.te German 

hymn, 

" Heavenward doth our journey tend ; 
We are strangers here on earth," 

furnished the title for the German translation—" Himmelan." It appeared 
just after the French war, and went as a comforter into scores of the homes 
which war had desolated, and frequent testimony came back to her of the 
deep interest excited by the book, and of the affectionate gratitude called 
out toward the author. She seemed to have inspired her translator, whose 
letters to her breathe the warmest affection and the most enthusiastic ad- 
miration. It would be easy to till up the time that remains with grateful 
testimonies to the work of this book. From among a multitude I select 
only one: A manufacturer in a New England town, a stranger, wrote to 
her expressing his high appreciation of the book, and saying that he had 
four thousand persons in his employ, and a circulating library of six 
thousand volumes for their use, in which were two copies of " Stepping 
Heavenward." He adds, " I hear in every direction of the good it is doing^ 
and a wealthy friend has written to me saying that she means to put a copy 
into the hand of every bride of her acquaintance." ^ 

Several chapters might be filled with letters received by 
Mrs. Prentiss, expressing the gratitude of the writers for the 
spiritual help and comfort Stepping Heavenward had given 
them. These letters came from all parts of this country, from 
Europe, and even from the ends of the earth ; and they were 
written by persons belonging to every class in society. Among 
them was one, written on coarse brown grocery paper, from a 
poor crippled boy in the interior of Pennsylvania, which she 
especially prized. It led to a friendly correspondence that 
continued for several years. The book was read with equal 
delight by persons not onty of all classes, but of all creeds 
also; by Calvinists, Arminians, High Churchmen, Evangeli- 
cals, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics.' It was, however, 

' Memorial discourse by the Rev. Marvin R. Vincent, D.D. 

" The following is an extract from a letter, dated New Orleans, and written after Mrs. 
Prentiss' death : 

"We called one day to see a poor dressmaker who was dying of consumption. Slie 
was an educated woman, a devout Roman Catholic, and a person whom we had long x-t- 
fc-pected and esteemed for. her integrity, her love of independence, and her extraordinaty 
powers of endurance. Her husband, a prosperous merchant, had died suddenly, and his 
dffairs being mismanaged, she was obliged, although a constant invalid, to earn a sup- 
port for many years by the most unremitting labor. We found her leading 'Stepping 
Heavenward,' which she spoke of in the warmest terms. We told her about the au 



STEPPING ITFAVENWARD. 2S3 

wholly unnoticed by most of the organs of Htcrary opinion 
in this countiy ; although abroad it attracted at once tlie at 
tention of men and women well known in the world of letters 
and was praised by them in the highest terms.' 

Miss Eliza A. Warner, in the following Reminiscences^ 
gives some interesting incidents in reference to Stepping 
Hcavcmvard. 

That summer in Dorset — the summer of 1868 — is one full of hxv^^\ and 
pleasant memories which it is delightful to recall. I had heard much of 
Mrs. Prentiss from mutual friends, and been exceedingly interested in her 
books, so that when I found we were to be fellow-boarders for the summer 
I was greatly pleased ; yet I felt a little shy at meeting one of whose su- 
periority in many lines 1 had heard so much. 

How well I remember that bright morning in July on which we fust 
met on our way to the breakfast-table ! I can hear now the frank, cheery 
voice with which she greeted me, and see her large dark eyes, so full ol 
animation and kindly interest, which a moment after sparkled with fun as 
she recalled an old joke familiar to my friends, and, it seemed, to her also. 
I was put at my ease at once, and from that moment onward felt the won- 
derful fascination of a manner so peculiarly her own ; it was a frank, whule- 
souled, sincere manner, with a certain indescribable piquancy and spri^ht- 
liness blending with the earnestness which made her ver>' individual and 
very charming. 

For the next two months we were a good deal together. I think it was 
a very happy summer to her. You were building the house in Dorset for a 
summer home, and the planning for this and watching its progress was a 
pleasant occupation. And she was such an enthusiastic lover of nature 
that the out-of-door life she led was a constant enjoyment. She would 
spend hours rambling in the woods, collecting ferns, mosses, trailing vines, 
and every lovely bit of blossom and greenery that met her eye— and noth- 
ing pretty escaped it— and there was always an added freshness and brij^ht- 
ness in her face when she came home laden with these treasures, and eai^u-r 
to exhibit them. "Oh, you don't go crazy over such thini^s as 1 do," she 
vvould say as she held them up for our admiration. She filled her room 
with these woodland beauties, and pressed quantities of them 10 carry to 
her city home. 

thoress, of her suffering from ill-health, and of her recent death. She listened caperly 
and asked questions which showed tlie deepest interest in the subject. Soon after sh« 
left the city, and a few weeks later we heard of her death." 

1 One of them— said to have been an eminent German thcolopnan— used this strong 
language respecting it : " Schon nianche gute, edle, segcu^rciche Gabc isl uns aus Nord- 
Emerika gekommen, aber wir stehen nicht an, diese als die bcste zu bezcichncn untei 
alien, die uns von dort zu G'-sichtc gekommen." 



284 'THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

In that beautiful valley among the Green Mountains, some of whose 
near summits rise to the height of three thousand feet, her enthusiasm foi 
fine sceneiy had full scope. She would watch with delight the sunset glow 
as it spread and deepened along those mountain peaks, suffusing then with 
a glory which we likened to that of the New Jerusalem ; and as we sat and 
watched this glory slowly fade, tint by tint, into the gray twilight, her talk 
would be of heaven and holiness and Christ. 

Whatever she felt, she felt intensely, and she threw her whole heart and 
soul into all she said or did ; this was one gre-t secret of the power of her 
personal presence ; she felt so keenly herself, she made others feel. 

Those summer days were long and bright and beautiful, but none too 
long for her. She was one of the most industrious persons I have ever 
known, and her writing, reading and sewing, and the care of her children, 
over the formation of whose characters she watched closely and wisely, oc- 
cupied every moment of her time, except when she was out of doors, try- 
ing by exercise in the open air to secure a good night's sleep ; not an easy 
thing for her to do in those days. 

Early in August we were joined by Miss Hannah Lyman, of Vassar 
College, a mutual friend and a most delightful addition to our little party. 

We knew Mrs. Prentiss spent a part of every day in writing, but she 
said nothing of the nature of her work. Do you remember coming into the 
parlor one morning, where Miss Lyman and I were sitting by ourselves, and 
telling us that she was writing a story, but had become so discouraged she 
threatened to throw it aside as not worth finishing.? " I like it myself," you 
added, " it really seems to me one of the best things she has ever written, 
and I am iry'mg to get her to read it to you and see what you think of it." 

Of course, both Miss Lyman and myself were eager to hear it, and 
promised to tell her frankly how we liked it. The next morning she came 
to our room with a little green box in her hand, saying, with her merry 
laugh, " Now you've got to do penance for your sins, you two wicked 
women ! " and, sitting down by the window, while we took our sewing, she 
began to read us in manuscript the work which was destined to touch and 
strengthen so many hearts — " which," to use the w^ords of another, " has 
become a part of the soul-history of many thousands of Christian women — 
young and old — at home and abroad." 

It was a rare treat to listen to it, with comments from her interspersed; 
some of them droll and witty, others full of profound religious feeling. Now 
and then, as we queried if something was not improbable or unnatural, she 
would give us bits of history from her own ex; erience or that of her friends 
going to show that stranger things had occurred in real life. I need not 
say we insisted on its being finished, feeling sure it would do great good ; 
though I must confess that I do not think either of us, much as we enjoyed 
t, A-as fully aware of its great merits. 

I was much impressed by her singleness of purpose ; her one grea de 



ST E P P I N G 1 1 F. A V K X W ART). 285 

sire so evidently being that her writings should help others to know and 
to love Christ and His truth, that she thought little or nothing of her owr 
reputation. 

She went on with her work, occasionally reading to us what she hac 
added. In those days she always spoke of it as her " Katy book," no other 
title having been given to it. But one morning she came to the breakfast- 
table with her face all lighted up. " I've got a name for my book," she ex- 
claimed ; "it came to me while I was lying awake last night. You know 
Wordsworth's Stepping Westward ? I am going to call it Stepping 
Heavenward — don't you like it.^ I do." We all felt it was exactly the 
right name, and she added, " I think I will put in W^ordsworlh's poem as a 
preface." 

Of the heart-communings on sacred things that made that summer so 
memorable to me I can not speak ; and yet, more than anything else, these 
gave a distinctive character to our intercourse. Her faith and Io\e were so 
ardent and persuading, so much a part of herself, that no one could be with 
her without recognising their power over her life. She was interested in 
everything about her, without a particle of cant, full of playful humor and 
bright fancies ; but the love of Christ was the absorbing interest of her life 
— almost a passion, it might be called, so fervent and rapturous was her de- 
votion to Him, so great her longing for communion with Him and for a 
more complete conformity to His perfect will. 

As I have said, all her emotions were intense and her religious affections 
had the same warmth and glow. Believing in Christ was to her not so 
much a duty as the deepest joy of her life, heightening all other joys, and 
she was not satisfied until her friends shared with her in this experience. 
She believed it to be attainable by all, founded on a complete submitting ol 
the human to the Divine will in all things, great and small. 

Truly of her it might be said, if of any human being, " s/if haih Icrjea 
much" 

Your arrangements at Heidelberg seem to me to be as de- 
lightful as anything can be in a world where nothing 
i;vii(h', is ideal. Be sure to let A. bear her full share of the 
^Xot^.ie'' expense, and be a mother to her if you can. The gay- 
1869. gst outside life has an undertone of sadness, and I do 
not doubt she will have hours of unrest which she will hardly 
know how to account for. I am afraid Heidelberg will be 
rather narrow bounds for your husband, and hope he may de- 
cide to go to Egypt in case his ear gets quite well. I low for- 
tunate that he is near a really good aurist. I am always nerv- 
ous about car-troubles. Fancy your having to shout your love 
Ko him ! In a letter written about two weeks ago, Miss Lymar 



286 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

says, •* How am I ? Longing for a corner in which to stop try- 
ing to live, and lie down and die," and adds that she is now toe 
feeble to travel. I suppose she is liable to break down at any 
moment, but I do hope she won't be left to go abroad. I judge 
from what you say of Mr. H. that he is slipping off. I always 
look at people who are going to heaven with a sort of curiosity 
and envy ; it is next best to seeing one who has just come 
thence. Get all the good out of him you can ; there is none 
too much saintliness on earth. I wonder how you spend your 
time ? Do, some time, write the history of one day ; what you 
said to that funny cook, and what she said to you ; what you 
thought and what you did ; and what you didn't think and 
didn't did. 

Friday^ \()th. — Thanksgiving has come and gone beautifulty. 
It was a perfect day as to weather. Our congregation joined 
Dr. Murray's, and he gave us an excellent sermon. The four 
Stearnses came in to dinner and seemed to enjoy it. I suppose 
you all celebrated the day in Yankee fashion and got up those 

abominations — mince pies. When I told L. about 's fourth 

marriage, he said it reminded him of a place he had seen, 
where a man lay buried in the midst of a lot of women, the 
sole inscription on his gravestone being "Our Husband." 

Mrs. says the tiffs between my Katy and her husband are 

exactly like those she had with hers, and Mrs. said very 

much the same thing — after hearing which, I gave up. 

Tell A. I had a call yesterday from Mrs. S , who came to 

town to spend Thanksgiving at her father's, and fell upon my 
neck and ate me up three several times. I tell you Avhat it is, 
it's nice to have people love you, whether you deserve it or not, 
and this warm-hearted, enthusiastic creature really did me 
good. Dr. Skinner sent us an extraordinary book to read 
called "God's Frrnacc." There is a good deal of egotism in 
it and self-consciousness, and a good deal of genuine Christian 
experience. I read it through four times, and, when I carried 
it back and was discussing it with him, he said he had too. It 
seems almost incredible that a wholly sanctified character could 
publish such a book, made up as it is of the author's own let- 
ters and journal and most sacred joys and sorrows ; but per- 
haps when I get sanctified I shall go to printing mine— it 
really seems to be a way they have. The Hitchcocks sailed 



STEPPING HEAVENWARD. 287 

yesterday, and it must have cheered them to set forth on sc 
very tine a day. Give my love to everybody straight througli 
from Hal up to your husband and Mr. H. 

Later. — Of course, my letters to A. are virtually to you, too 
as far as you can be interested in the little details of which 
they are made up. Randolph showed George a letter about 
Katy, which he says beats anything w^e have heard yet, which 
is saying a good deal. One lady said Earnest was exactly like 
her husband, another that he was painfully so ; indeed, many 
sore hearts are making such confessions. So I begin to think 
there is even more sorrowfulness and unrest in the world than 
I thought there was. You would get sick unto death of the 
book if I should tell a quarter of what w^e hear about it, good 
and bad. It quite refreshed me to hear that a young lady 
wanted to punch me. 

Craig's Life is very touching. His delight in Christ and in 
close fellowship with Him is beautiful ; but it is painful to see 
that dying man wandering about Europe alone, when he ought 
to have been breathing out his life in the arms he loved so 
well. How did poor Mrs. C. live through the week of sus- 
pense that followed the telegram announcing his illness ? for 
one must love such a man very deeply, I think. Well, lie 
doesn't care now where he died or when, and he has gone 
where he belonged. I miss you all ever so much, and George 
keeps up one constant howl for your husband. It is a m3'stery 
to me what any of you find in my letters, they do seem so flat 
to me. What fun it would be if you would all write mc a 
round letter ! I would write a rouser for it. Lots of love. 

The Rev. Wheelock Craig, \vhosc Life is referred to by Mrs. 
Prentiss in the preceding letter, was her husband's successor 
in the pastorate of the South Trinitarian church, New Bed- 
ford.' 

1 See A Memorial of the Character, Work, and Closing Days of Rev. Wlieoli'ck Craig, 
New Bedford. 

Mr. Craig: was born in Augusta, Maine, July 11, 1824. He entered Bowdoin Collc^^e 
{\\ 1839, and was gfraduated with honor in the class of 18^3. He then entered the Tlico 
logical Seminary at Bangor, where he graduated in 18^7. After preacliing a couple of 
years at New Castle, Me., he accepted a call to New Bedford, and was in.-lallcd there 
December 4, 1850. In 1859 he received a ^all to the chair of Modern Languages in Bow. 
doin College, which he declined. After an earnest and faithful ministry of more than 
seventeen years, he went abroad for liis health in May, 1S6S. He \isited Ireland, En- 



2SS THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

V. 

Recollections by Mrs. Henry B. Smith. 

The following Recollections from the pen of Mrs. Smith 
may fitly close the present chapter: 

Northampton, January 2, 1879. 

My Dear Dr. Prentiss : — I have been trying this beautiful snowy day, 
which shuts us in to our own thoughts, to recall some of my impressions ot 
your dear wife, but I find it very difficult ; there was such variety to her, and 
«o much of her, and the things which were most characteristic are so hard 
to be described. 

I read "Stepping Heavenward" in MS. before we went to Europe in 
1869. I remember she used to say that I was " Katy's Aunt," because we 
talked her over with so much interest. She sent me a copy to Heidelberg, 
where I began at once translating it into German as my regular exercise. I 
was delighted to give my copy to Mrs. Prof. K. in Leipsic, as the American 

gland, Scotland, and then passing over to the Continent, travelled through Belgium, 
Holland, Switzerland, and so southward as far as Naples, where he arrived the last ol 
September. Here he was taken seriously ill, and advised to hasten bade to Switzerland. 
In great weakness he passed through Rome, Florence, Turin, Geneva, and reached Neu- 
chatel on the 4th of November in a state of utter exhaustion. There, encompassed by 
newly-made friends and tenderly cared for, he gently breathed bis last on the 2Sth of 
November. Two names, in particular, deserve to be gratefully mentioned in connection 
with Mr. Craig's last hours, viz. : that of his countryman, Mr. W. C. Cabot, and that of 
the Rev. Dr. Godet, of Neuchatel. Of the former he said the day before his death : " He 
saw me coming from Geneva a perfect stranger— lying sick, helpless, wretched, and mis- 
erable in the cars— and spoke to me, inquired who I was, and took care of me. Anybody 
else would have gone by on the other side. He brought me to this hotel, and remained 
with me, and did everything for me ; and, fearing that I might be ill some time, and un- 
easy about money matters, he sent me a letter of credit for two hundred pounds. Such 
noble and generous conduct to an entire stranger was never heard of." To Dr. Godet 
he had a letter from Prof. Henry B. Smith, of New York. But he needed no other in- 
troduction to that warm-hearted and eminent servant of God than his sad condition and 
his love to Christ. " From the first quarter of an hour," wrote Dr. Godet to Mrs. Craig, 
" we were like two brothers who had known each other from infancy. He knew not a 
great deal of 1-rench, and I not more of English ; but tlie Lord was between him and 
iiie." " Prof. Godet and family are like the very angels of God," wrote Mr. Craig to his 
wife. His last days were li'.ied with inexpressible joy in his God and Saviour. Shortly 
before his departure he said to Dr. Godet and tlie other friends who were by his bedside, 
" There shall be no night there, but the Lavib ivhich is in t/ie midst o/ihe throne shall 
be their light. ''^ 

Mr. Craig had a highly poetical nature, refined spiritual sensibihties, and a -oul glow- 
mgwith love to his Master, He was also a vigorous and original thinker. Some pas- 
sages in his letters and journal are as racy and striking as anything in John Newton 01 
Cecil. Mrs. Prentiss greatly enjoyed reading them to her friends. Some of them she 
copied and had published in the Association Monthly. 



STEPPING HEAVENWARD. 2.So 

story which I was willing to have her translate into German, as she had 
asked for one. There is no need of telling you about the enthusiasm which 
the book created. Women everywhere said, " It seems to be myself that I 
am reading about"; and the feeling that they, too, with all their imperfec- 
tions, might be really stepping heavenward, was one great secret of its in- 
spiration. One little incident may interest you. My niece, Mrs. Prof Em- 
erson, was driving alone toward Amherst, and took into her carriajje a 
poor colored woman who was walking the same way. The woman s<^on 
said, "I have l^een thinking a good deal of you, Mrs. E., and of your lillle 
children, and I have been reading a book which I thought you would like. 
It was something about walking towards heaven." " Was it ' Stepping 
Heavenward } " " Yes, that was it." 

How naturally, modestly, almost indifferently, she received the tributes 
which poured in upon her ! Yet, though she cared little for praise, she 
cared much for love, and for the consciousness that she was a helper and 
comforter to others. 

On reading the book again this last summer, I was struck by seeing how 
true a transcript of herself, in more than one respect, was given in Katy. 
•' Why can not I make a jacket for my baby without throwing into it the 
ardor of a soldier going into battle "i " How ardently she threw herself into 
everything she did ! In friendship and love and religion this outpouring of 
herself was most striking. 

Her earlier books she always read or submitted to me in manuscript, and 
she showed so little self-interest in them, and I so much, that they seemed 
a sort of common property. I think that I had quite as much pleasure in 
their success and far more pride, than herself. The Susy books I always 
considered quite as superior in their way as Stepping Heavenward. Tiiey 
are still peerless among books for little children. " Henry and Bessie," too, 
contains some of the most beautiful religious teaching ever written. " P'red 
and Maria and Me" she used to talk about almost as if I had written it, 
for no other reason than that 1 liked it so much. 

My sister says that her daughter Nettie read "Little Susy" through 
twelve times, getting up to read it before breakHist. Slie printed (before 
she could write) a little letter of thanks to your wife, who sent her the fol- 
lowing pretty note in reply : 

New York, January lo, 1S54. 
My Dear '• Nettie " :— What a nice little letter you wrote me ! It pleased me vcrr 
much. I shall keep it in my desk, and when I am an old woman, I shall buy a jair of 
spectacles, and sit dowii in the chimney-corner, and read it. When you learn to write 
with your own little fingers, I Lope you will write me another letter. 

Your friend, with love, AUNT SUSAX. 

She did nothing for effect, and made little or no effort merely to please; 
she was almost too careless of the impression which she made upon others, 
and, on this account, strangers sometimes thought her cold and unsympa- 
19 



290 THE LIFE OF MRS. FRENTISS. 

thetic. But touch her at the right point and the right moment, and there 
was no measure to her interest and warmth. She hated all pretense and 
display, and the slightest symptom of them in others shut her up and kept 
her grave and silent, and this, not from a severe or Pharisaic spirit, but be- 
cause the atmosphere was so foreign to her that she could not live in it. 
" I pity people that have any sham about them when I am by," she said 
one day. " I am dreadfully afraid of young ladies," she said at another 
time. vShe could not adapt herself to the artificial and conventional. Yet 
with young ladies who loved what she loved she was peculiarly free and 
playful and forth-giving, and such were among her dearest and most lov- 
ingly admiring friends. 

When we met, there were no pieHminaries ; she plunged at once into 
the subject which was hiteresting her, the book, the person, the case of 
sickness or trouble, the plan, the last shopping, the game, the garment, the 
new preparation for the table — in a way peculiarly her own. One could 
never be with her many minutes without hearing some bright fancy, some 
quick stroke of repartee, some ludicrous way of putting a thing. But 
whether she told of the grumbler who could find nothing to complain 
of in heaven except that " his halo didn't fit," or said in her quick 
way, when the plainness of a lady's dress was commended, " Why, 1 
didn't suppose that anybody could go to heaven now-a-days without an 
overskirt," or wrote her sparkling impromptu rhymes for our children's 
games, her mirth was all in harmony with her earnest life. Her quick per- 
ceptions, her droll comparisons, her readiness of expression, united with 
her rare and tender sympathies, made her the most fascinating of com- 
panions to both young and old. Our little Saturday teas with our children, 
wliile our husbands were at Chi Alpha, were rare times. My children en- 
joyed " Aunt Lizzy " almost as much as I did. She was usually in her best 
mood at these times. When you and Henry came in, on your return from 
Chi Alpha, you looked in upon, or, rather, you completed a happier circle 
than this impoverished earth can ever show us again. 

Her acquisitions were so rapid, and she made so little show of them, 
that one might have doubted their thoroughness, who had no occasion to 
test them. Her beautiful translation of Griselda was a surprise to many. 
I remember her eager enthusiasm while translating it. The writing of her 
books was almost an inspiration, so rapid, without copying, almost without 
alteration, running on in her clear, pure style, with here and there a radiant 
sparkle above the full depths. 

It sometimes seemed as if she were interested only in those whom she 
l:new she could benefit. If so, it was from her ever-present consciousness 
of a consecrated hfe. She constantly sought for v^-ays of showing her love 
to Christ, especially to His sick and suffering and sorrowing ones. Life 
with her was peculiarly intense and earnest ; she looked upon it more as a 
discipline and a hard path, and yet no one had a quicker or more admiring 



STEPPING HEAVENWARD. 29I 

eye for the flowers by the wayside. 1 always thought that her great forti 
was the study of character. She laid bare and dissected everybody, even 
her nearest friends and herself, to find what was in them ; and what she 
found, reproduced in her books, was what gave them their peculiar ch inn 
of reality. The growth of the religious life in the heart was the one mosl 
interesting subject to her. 

I never could fully understand the deep sadness which was the ground- 
work of her nature. It certainly did not prevent the most intense enjoy- 
ment of her rich temporal and spiritual blessings, while it indicated depths 
which her friends did not fathom. It was partly constitutional, doubtless, 
and partly, I suppose, from her keener sensitiveness, her larger grasp, her 
stronger convictions, her more vivid vision, and more ardent desires. Even 
the glowing, almost seraphic love of Christ which was the chief character- 
istic of her later life was, in her words, " but longing and seeking." She 
was an exile yearning for her home, " stepping heavenward," and knowing 
better than the rest of us what it meant. 

These things come to me now, and yet how much I have omitted — her 
industry so varied and untiring, her generosity (so many gifts of former 
days are around me now), her interest in my children, her delight in flowers 
and colors and all benutiful things, her ready sympathy — but it is an 
almost inexhaustible subject. She comes vividly before me now, seated on 
the floor in her room, with her work around her, making something for 
such and such a person. What the void in your life must be those who 
knew most of her manifold, exalted, inspiring life can but imagine. 

" Nay, Hope may whisper ^vith the dead 
By bending forward where they are ; 
But Memory, with a backward tread, 
Communes with them afar I 

•* The joys we lose are but forecast. 
And we shall fmd them all once more ; 
We look behind us for the past. 
But, lo! 'tis all before 1 " 



CHAPTER X. 

ON THE MOUNT. 

1870. 

I. 

A Ivappy Year. Madame Guyon. What sweetens the Cup of earthly Trials and the 
Cup of earthly Joy. Death of Mrs. Julia B. Cady. Her Usefulness. Sickness 
and Death of other Friends. "My Cup runneth over." Letters. "More Love 
to Thee, O Christ." 

In every earnest life there usually comes a time when it 
reaches its highest point, whether of power or of enjoyment ; 
a time when it is in 

— the bright, consumate flower. 

The year 1870 formed such a period in the life of Mrs. Pren- 
tiss. None that went before, or that followed after, equalled 
it, as a whole, in rich, varied and happy experiences. It was 
full of the genial, loving spirit which inspired the Little Susy 
books and Stepping Heavenward ; full, too, of the playful 
humor which runs through Fred and Maria and Me ; and full, 
also, of the intense, overflowing delight in her God and Sav- 
iour that breathes in the Golden Hours. From its opening to 
its close she was — to borrow an expression from her Richmond 
journal — "one great long sunbeam." Everywhere, in her 
home, with her friends, by sick and dying beds, in the hou;(e 
of mourning, in the crov/dcd street or among her flowers at 
Dorset, she seemed to be attired with constant brightness. Of 
course, there were not wanting hours of sadness and heart- 
sinking; nor was her consciousness of sin or her longing to be 
freed from it, perhaps, ever keener and more profound; but 
still the main current of her existence flowed on, untroubled, 
to the music of its own loving, grateful and adoring thoughts. 
Often she would say that God was too good to her; that she 
(292) 



ON THE MOUNT. 29? 

was satisfied ?i\\A had nothing more to ask of life; her cup of 
domestic bliss ran over ; and as to her religious joy, it was at 
times too much for her frail body, and she begged that it 
might be transferred to other souls. Her letters give a vivid 
picture of her state of mind during this memorable year; and 
yet only a picture. The sweet reality was beyond the powci 
of words. 

In the early part of this year the correspondence of 
Madame Guyon and Fenelon fell into her hands, and was 
eagerly read by her. The perusal of this correspondence led, 
somewhat later, to a careful study of the Select Works, Auto- 
biography, and Spiritual Letters of Madame Guyon, tluui 
forming an important incident in her religious histor}-. Here- 
tofore she had known Madame Guyon chiefly through the 
Life by Prof. Upham and the little treatise entitled A Short 
and very Easy Method of Prayer; and both seem rather to 
have repelled her. In 1867 she wrote to a friend : 

There is a book I would be glad to have you read, and 
which I think you would wish to own ; ' Thoughts on Personal 
Religion,' by Goulburn. I never read a modern religious book 
that had in it so much, that really edified me. I take for grant- 
ed you have Thomas a Kern pis ; on that and on Fenelon I have 
feasted for years every day ; I like strengthening food and 
whatever deals a blow at this monster Self. Madame Guyon I 
do not understand. 

But now she began to feel, as so many earnest seekers after 
holiness had felt before her, the strong attraction of this re- 
markable woman. While never becoming to her what Fene- 
lon was, Madame Guyon for several years exerted a decided 
influence upon her views of the Christian life ; nor is there 
reason to think that this influence was not, on the whole, 
salutary. Notwithstanding her grave errors and the extrava- 
gances which marred her career, Madame Guyon was no doubt 
one of the holiest, as she was certainly one of the most gifted, 
vvomen of her own or any other age.' 

1 John Wesley, after having pointed out what he considered the {jrand source of all her 
nistakes ; namely, the being guided by inward impressions and the light of her own 
spirit rather than by the written Word, and also her error in teaching that God nevei 



•J94 'l^HE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

It has been a real disappointment not to see you. How 
To Mrs quickly we learn to lean on earthl)' things ! I am 
y. Fiiiot afraid I prize Christian fellowship too much, and that 

New York, I am behaving in a miserly way about all divine gifts, 
^'^'^■^'^^'^°" shutting myself up here in this room, which often 
seems like the gate of heaven, and luxuriating in it, instead of 
going about preaching the glad tidings to other souls. Yet 
work for Christ, when He gives it, is sweet, too, and if answer- 
ing your note is the little tiny bit He offers me at this moment, 
how glad I am. Though I am not, just now, in the furnace as 
you are, there is no knowing how soon I shall be, and I remem- 
ber well enough how the furnace feels, to have deep sympathy 
with you in your trials. Sympathy, but not regret ; I can't 
make myself be very sorry for Christ's disciples when He takes 
them in hand — He does it so tenderly, so wisely, so lovingly ; 
and it can hardly be true, can it ? that He is just as near and 
dear to me when my cup is as full of earthly blessings as it can 
hold, as He is to you whose cup He is emptying? 

I have always thought they knew and loved Him best who 
knew Him in His character of Chastiser ; but perhaps one 
never loses the memory of His revelations of Himself in that 
form, and perhaps that tender memory saddens and hallows the 
day of prosperity. At any rate, you and I seem to be in full 
sympathy with each other ; your empty cup isn't empty, and 
my full one would be bitter if love to Christ did not sweeten 

t. It matters very little on what paths we are walking, since 
we find Him in every one. How ashamed we shall be when we 
get to heaven, of our talk about our trials here ! Why don't 
we sing songs instead ?' We know how, for He has put the 
songs into our mouths. I think I know something about the 
land of Beulah, but I don't quite live in it yet ; and yet what is 
this joy if it isn't beatitude, if it is not a foretaste of that 
which is to come ? It isn't joy in what He has done for me, a 

purifies a soul but by inward and outward suffering — then adds : " And yet with all this 
dross how much pure gold is mixed ! So did God wink at involuntar)'- ignorance. \Viiat 
a depth of religion did she enjoy 1 How much of the mind that was in Christ Jesus ! 
\Vhat heights of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ! How few such 
instances do we find of exalted love to God, and our neighbor ; of genuine humility ; of 
invincible meeknrss and unbounded resignation ! So that, upon the whole, I know not 
vvhethor we may not search many centuries to find another woman who was such a pat- 
tern of true holiness." 



ON THE MOUNT. 



-'95 



sinner, but adoring joy for what He is, though I do not begin to 
know what He is. It will take an eternity to learn that lesson. 
Do you really mean to say that Miss K. is going to pray foi 
viel How delightful ! I am greedy for prayer ; nobody is ricli 
enough to give me anything I so long for ; indeed when my 
husband begged me to tell him what I wanted at Christmas, I 
couldn't think of a thing ; but oh, what unutterable longing I 
have for more of Christ. Why should we not speak freely to 
each other of Him ? Don't apologise for it again. The wonder 
is that we have the heart to speak of anything else. Some- 
times I am almost frightened at the expressions of love I pour 
out upon Him, and wonder if I am really in earnest ; if I really 
mean all I say. Is it even so with you ? It is not foolish, is it ? 
Perhaps He likes to hear our poor stammerings, when we can 
not get our emotions and our thoughts into words. 

I find letters more and more unsatisfactory. How little I 

To Miss know of your real life, how little you know of mine ! 

E.A. War-'^Q much is going on all the time that I should run 

«rr, New ^ ^ 

York, Jan. and tell you about if you lived here, but which it 
^' ^ ^°" would take too long to write. I have very precious 
Christian friends within six months, who take, or rather to 
whom I give, more time than I could or would spare for any 
ordinary friendship ; one of them has spent four hours in my 
room with me at a time, and we had wonderful communings 
together. Then two dear friends have died. One of the two, 
of whom you have heard me speak, was the most useful woman 
in our church ; my husband and I both wept over her death. 
The other directed in dying that a copy of Stepping Heaven- 
ward should be given to each of her Sunday scholars ; a life- 
long fear of death was taken away, and she declared it plcas- 
anter and easier to die than to live ; her last words, five min- 
utes before she drew her last gentle breath, came with the up- 
ward, dying look, " Wonderful love ! " 

You can't think how sweet it is to be a pastor's \\'\W. \ m 
feel the right to sympiihise with those who mourn, to lly to 
them at once, and join them in their prayers and tears. It would 
be pleasant to spend one's whole time among sufferers, and to 
keep testifying to them what Christ can and will become to 
them, if they will only let Him No, I never '' Dialed ' 



296 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

or was transcendental. I don't think knowledge will come tc 
us by intuition in heaven, though knowledge enough to get 
started there, will. But I don't much care how it will be. I 
know we shall learn Christ there. I have read lately Prof. 
Phelps on the Solitude of Christ ; it is a suggestive little book 
which I like much. Have you ever read the Life of jNIrs. 
Hawkes ? It is interesting because she records so many of 
Cecil's wonderful remarks — such, e.g., as these: "a humble, 
kind silence often utters much." "To-morrow you and I shall 
walk together in a garden, when I hope to talk with you about 
everything but sadness." I am going to ask a favor of you, 
though I hate to put you to the trouble. In writing a telegram 
in great haste and sorrow, I accidentally used and cut into the 
lines you copied for me — Sabbath hymn in sickness. It was a 
real loss, and if you ever feel a little stronger than usual, will 
you make me another copy ? I so often want to comfort sick 
persons with it. 

I have half promised to write a serial for a magazine, the 
organ of the Young Men's Christian Association, though I 
know nothing of young men and hate to write serials. I wish 
I could hide in some hole. I get bright letters from A., who 
is having a very nice time. I write her every day ; wretched 
letters, which she thinks delightful, fortunately. We have a 
quiet time this winter, but such nice things can't last, and I 
am afraid of this world anyhow. I know you pray for me, as 
I do for you and Miss L. every day. I have a thousand things 
to say that I shall have to put off till I see you. Good-bye, 
dearie. 

I have had some really sweet days, shut up w^th my dear 

To Mrs. little boy. He is better, and I am comparatively at 

Condict, leisure again, and so happy in meditatinfr on the 

Marciit, character of my Saviour, and in the sense of His 

^^'°" nearness, tliat I acJie, and have had to beg Him to 

give me no more, but to carry this joy to you and to Miss K. 

and to two friends, who, languishing on dying beds, need it so 

much.' If I could shed tears I should not have to tell you this 

and indeed it is nothing new ; but one must have vent in some 

* See the lines My Cup Runneth Over, Golden Hours ^ p. 43. 



ON THE MOUNT. 



297 



way. And this reminds me to explain to you why to three 
deeir Christian friends I now and then send verses ; they arc my 
tears of joy or sorrow, and when I feel most deeply it is a 
relief to versify, and a pleasure to open my heart to those 
who feel as I do. I have been in print ever since I was sixteen 
years old, and admiration is an old story ; I care very little for 
it ; but I do crave and value sympathy with those who love 
Clirist. And it is such a new thing to open my heart thus ! I 
have written any number of verses that no human being has 
ever seen, because they came from the very bottom of my heart. 
I v/ish I could put into words all the blessed thoughts I 
had last week about God's dear will: it was a week of such 
sweet content with the work He gave me to do ; naturally I 
hate nursing, and losing the air makes me feel unwell ; but 
what can't God do with us ? I love, dearly, to have a Master 
[ fancy that those who have strong wills, are the ones to enjoy 
God's sovereignty most. I v/ondcr if you realise what a very 
happy creature I am ? and how much too good God is to me ? I 
don't see how He can heap such mercies on a poor sinner ; but 
that only shows how little I know Him. But then, I am 
learning to knoAV Him, and shall go on doing it forever and 
ever ; and so will you, I am not sure that it is best for us, 
once safe and secure on the Rock of Ages, to ask ourselves too 
closely what this and that experience may signify. Is it not 
better to be thinking of the Rock, not of the feet that stand 
upon it? It seems to me that we ought to be unconscious of 
ourselves, and that the nearer we get to Christ, the more we 
shall be taken up with Him. We shall be like a sick man who, 
after he gets well, forgets all the old symptoms he used to 
think so much of, and stops feeling his pulse, and just enjoys 
his health, only pointing out his physician to all who arc dis- 
eased. You will see that this is in answer to a portion of your 
Ie';ter, in which you say Miss K. interprets to you certain expe- 
riences. If I am wrong I am willing to be set right ; perhaps 
I have not said clearly what I meant to say. I certainly mean 
no criticism on you or her, but am only thinking aloud and 
querying. 

You ask if I revel in the Pllirrim's Progress. Yes, I do. I 



298 THE LIFE OF MRS. PREXTISS. 

ToXTissE. think it an amazing book. It seems to me almost as 
^v!y pS-T' ^^ch an inspiration as the Bible itself.' I am glad 

March 27, you liked that hymn. I write in verse whenever J 
^ ^°* am deeply stirred, because, though as full of tears as 
other people, I can not shed them. But I never showed any of 
these verses to any one, not even my husband, till this winter. 
But if I were more with you no doubt I should venture to let 
you run over some of them, at least those my dear husband has 
seen and likes. I have felt about hymns just as you say yoM do, 
as if I loved them more than the Bible. But I have got over 
that ; I prayed myself out of it, not loving hymns the less, but 
the Bible more. I wonder if you sing ; I can't remember ; if 
you do, I will send you, sometime, a hymn to sing for my sake, 
called " More love to Thee, O Christ." Only to think, our 
silver wedding comes next month, and A. and the Smiths away ! 
I have been interrupted by callers, and must have been in 
the parlor several hours. You can't think what a sweet, peace- 
ful winter this has been, nor how good the children are. My 
cup has just run over, and at times I am too happy to be 
comfortable, if you know what that means ; not having a strong 
body, I suppose you do. Mrs. B. has been in a very critical 
state of late, but she is rallying, and I may, perhaps, have the 
privilege of seeing her again. I have had some precious times 
with her in her sick-room ; last Friday, a week ago, she prayed 
with me in the sweetest temper of mind, and came with me 
when I took leave, to the head of the stairs, full of love and 
smUes. 

I wish that hymn for the sick-room were mine, but it is not. 
I will enclose one that is, which my dear husband has 

To a 

Yoiaig kindly had printed ; perhaps you will like to sing it 

^pru\ to the tune of "Nearer, my God, to Thee." There is 

1870. not much in it, but you can put everything into it as 

* " I know of no book, the Bible excepted as above all comparison, which I, according to 
my judgment and experience, could so safely recommend as teaching and enforcing the 
whole saving truth according to the mind that was in Christ Jesus, as the Pilgrim's Prog 
ress. It is, in my conviction, incomparably the best summa t/icologicr cvangelicce ever 
produced by a \\Titer not miraculously inspired. I read it once as a theologian — and let 
me assure you, there is great theological acumen in the work — once with devotional feel- 
ings, and once as a poet, I could not have believed beforehand that Calvinism could be 
painted in such exquisitely delightful colors." — Coleridge. 



ON THE MOUNT. 



299 



you make it your prayer. I can't help feeling that every soul I 
meet, of whom I can ask, What think you of Christ ? and get 
the glad answer, " He is the chiefest among ten thousand, the 
One altogether lovely" — is a blessing as well as a comfort to 
mine ; and whenever you can and do say it, you will become 
more dear to me. Your God and Saviour won you as an easy 
victory, but He had to fight for me. It seems to me now that 
He ought to have all there is of me — which, to be sure, isn't 
much — and I hope He is taking it. His ways with me have 
been perfectly beautiful and infinite in long-suffering and 
patience. 

Ap7'il wth. — Your note has reawakened a question I have 
often had occasion to ask myself before. AVhy do my friends 
speak of my letters as giving more pleasure or profit than any- 
thing that goes to them from me in print ? Is human nature 
so selfish ? Must everybody have everything to himself ? It 
might seem so at first blush, but I think there are two sides to 
this question. May it not be possible that God sends a mes- 
sage directly from one heart to another as He does not to the 
many 2 Does He not speak through the living voice and the 
pen that is that voice, as He does not do in the less uncon- 
strained form of print ? At any rate, I love to believe that He 
directs each word and look and tone ; inspires it rather, I should 
say. 

I should like you to offer a special prayer for us on Satur- 
day. That day completes twenty-five years of married life to 
us, and, though it has its shades as well as its lights, I do not 
think 1 can do better for you than ask that you may have such 
years, 

" P'or who the backward scene hath scanned 
But blessed the Father's g^uiding hand? " 

I can more truly thank Him for His chastisements than for His 
worldly indulgences ; the latter urge from, the former drive to 
Him. I am saying a great thing in a feeble way, and you may 

multiply it by ten thousand, and it will still be weak. 

The hymn, " More Lov^c to Thee, O Clirist," bcionc^s, 
probably, as far back as the year 1856. Like most of hei 
hymns, it is simply a prayer put into the form of verse. She 



300 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

wrote it so hastily that the last stanza was left incomplete, 
one line having been added in pencil when it was printed. 
She did not show it, not even to her husband, until many 
years after it was written ; and she wondered not a little that, 
when published, it met with so much favor. 



II. 

Her Silver Wedding;. '■^ I have Livedo I have Loved." No Joy can put her out of Syn> 
pathy with the Trials of Friends. A Glance backward. Last Interview with a dy- 
ing I'Yiend. More Love and more Likeness to Christ. Funeral of a little Baby. 
Letters to Christian l-^iends. 

If 1870 was the crowning year in Mrs. Prentiss' life, the 
1 6th of April was that year's most precious jewel. As the 
time drew nigh, a glow of tender, grateful recollection suffused 
her countenance. 

Her eyes are homes of silent prayer. 

She talked of the past, like one lost in wonder, while the 
light and beauty of the vanished years appeared still to rest 
upon her spirit. The day itself, which had been kept from the 
knowledge of most of her friends, was full of sweet content, 
rehearsing, as it were, all the days of her married life ; and, at 
its close, the measure of her earthly joy seemed to be perfect 
and entire, wanting nothing. 

Do you knovv^ that it is just twenty-five years since we first 

To Mrs "^^^^ How gladly would I spend the day of our sil- 

Leonard, vcr wcddiog With you ! You will see that I am near 

'-^/77/i6,' y<^^ ^^ spirit, at all events. My thoughts have been 

1845-1870. b^sy the past week with reviewing the years through 

which I have travelled, hand in hand, with my dear husband ; 

years full of sin, full of suffering, full of joy ; brimful of the 

loving-kindness and tender mercy that smote often and smote 

surely. Your last letter only confirms what I already knew, 

but am never tired of hearing repeated, the faithfulness of God 

to those whom He afflicts. When we once find out what He is to 



ON I'lIE MOUNT. 



301 



Jin aching, emi)Ly heart, we want to make everybody sec jusl 
what we see, and, until we try in vain, think we can. I had 
very pecuUar feelings in relation to you when your dear hus- 
band was, for a time, parted from you. I knew God would 
never afflict you so, if He had not something beautiful and 
blissful to o^ive in place of what He took. And what can we 
ask for that compares for one instant with " the almost con- 
stant felt presence of our Saviour's sympathy and sup])orL " ? 
Our human nature v\'Ould like to have the earthly and the di- 
vine friendship at once ; but, if we must choose between tlie 
twain, surely you and I would choose Christ without one mo- 
ment's hesitation. I hope you mention my name every day to 
Him as I do yours, as I love to do. 

I enclose, and want you, when by yourself, to sing for my 
sake a little hymn that I am sure is the language of your heart. 
My dear husband had a few copies struck off to give friends. 
Write soon and often. Oh, that you lived here or at Dorset. 
Good-bye, with warmest love, now twenty-five years old ! 

Last Saturday was the twenty-fifth anniversary of our n.ar- 
To Mrs i'i^&<^> ^'^d ^ very happy day to us both. My dear 
Condict, husband wrote me a letter that made me tremble, lesl 

Nevo York, , , , , , 1 1 1 r 1 1 • 

April 10, he should get such hold of me as no human bemg 
^^'°* must have. I have a very curious feeling about life ; 
a satisfied one, and as if it could not possibly give me much 
more than I now have. ^^I Jiave livedo I have loved.'' ' People 
often say they have so much to live for ; I can't feel so, though 
I am not only willing, but glad to live while my husband and 
children need me ; and yet — and yet — to have this problem 
solved, and to be forever with the Lord ! I want to see you. 
I can no longer see my dear Mrs. B. ; she is too ill, and thai 
makes me miss you the more. I hope that little MS. of mine 
did not task your sympathies; I don't want you to pity nic. 
but to magnify Him who took such pains with me, and is 
carrying on just such work in thousands of hearts and lives. 
What goodness ! What condescension ! The least we can do 
vvlio have suffered much is to love mucli I have been 

The allusion is to Thekla's song in Part I., Act ill., sc. 7 of Schiller's WaUsnstein. 
Du Heilige, rufe deiii Kind ziiriick ! 
Ich habe genosscn das irdische Gliick, 
ich habe gelebt una geliebet. 



302 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

Studying the Bible on the subject of giving personal testimony 
and think it makes this a plain duty. There is nothing like the 
influence of one living soul on another. Then why should wc 
not naturally speak to everybody who will listen, of what fills 
our thoughts ; our Saviour, His beauty, His goodness, His 
faithfulness, His wisdom ! I don't believe a full heart can help 
running over 

I was right sorry to lose your Saturday's call. It was a hap- 

To a young Py ^^X ^^ ^^^' ^^^ ^ ^^^ conceive of no enjoyment of any 

Friejid, sort that would put me out of sympathy with the 

April 21, . , , ^ . , ^ J t^ J 

1S70. trials of friends : 

•' Old and young are bringing troubles, 
Great and small, for me to hear ; 
/ have oftc7i blessed my sorrows 
Thai drew other s grief so near'' 

I thought I was saying a very ordinary thing when I spoke 
of thanking God for His long years of discipline, but very 
likely life did not look to me at your age as it does now. I was 
rather startled the other day, to find it written in German, \v 
my own hand, " I can not say the will is there," referring to a 
hymn which says, " Der Will ist da, die Kraft ist klein, Doch 
wird dir nicht zuwider seyn." I suppose there was some great 
struggle going on when this foolish heart said that, just as if 
God did not invariably do for us the very best that can be 
done.^ You speak of having your love to Jesus intensified by 
interviews with me. It can hardly be otherwise, when those 
meet together who love Him, and it is a rule that works both 
ways ; acts and reacts. I should be thankful if no human 
being could ever meet me, even in a chance way, and not go 
away clasping Him the closer, and if I could meet no one who 
did not so stir and move me. It is my constant prayer. I have 
such insatiable longings to know and love Him better that I go 
about hungering and thirsting for the fellowship of those who 
feel so too ; when I meet them I call them my "benedictions." 
Next best to being with Christ Himself, I love to be with those 

1 The hymn referred to is Paul Gerhardt's, beginning : 
Wir singen dir, Iiniuaiiuol, Du Lebensfiirst uiid GnaJenqucll. 
It was one of her favorite German hymns. The Hnes she quotes belong to the ter.th 
llauTa ; " Ich kann nicht sag en Der Will ist da," are the words pencilled in the margin. 



ON TlIK MOUNT. 



303 



who have His spirit and are yearning for more of His likeness 
You speak of putting "deep and dark chasms betw-^en " your- 
self and Christ. He lets us do this that we may learn our 
nothingness, our weakness, and turn, disgusted, from ourselves 
to Him. May I venture to assure you that the " chasms " occur 
less and less frequently as one presses on, till finally they turn 
into "mountains of light." Get and keep a will for God, and 
everything that will is ready for will come. This is about a 
tenth part of what I might say. 

I wish I could describe to you my last interview with Mrs. 

To Miss E. •^- Sh^ ^^^ altered so in two weeks in which I had 

A ivarner, not seen her, that I should not have known her. She 

Nezv York^ 

April 2$, spoke with difficulty, but by getting close to her mouth 
^ ^°' I could hear all she said. She went back to the first 
time she met me, told me her heart then knitted itself to mine, 
and how she had loved me ever since, etc., etc. I then asked 
her if she had any parting counsel to give me : " No, not a 
word." .... Some one came in and wet her lips, gave her a 
sprig of citronatis, and passed out. I crushed it and let her 
smell the bruised leaves, saying, " You are just like these crush- 
ed leaves." She smiled, and replied, " Well, I haven't had one pain 
too many, not one. But the agony has been dreadful. I won't 
talk about that ; I just want to see your sunny face." I asked 
if she was rejoicing in the hope of meeting lost friends and the 
saints in heaven. She said, with an expressive look, "Oh, no, I 
haven't got so far as that. I have only got as far as Christ." 
" For all that," I said, "you'll see my father and mother there." 
"Why, so I shall," with another bright smile. But her lips were 
growing white with pain, and I came away. 

Did I tell you it was our silver wedding-day on the i6th ? 
We had a very happy day, and if I could see you I should like 
to tell you all about it. But it is too long a story to tell in 
writing. I don't see but I've had everything this life can give, 
and have a curious feeling as if I had got to a stopping-place. 
I heard yesterday that two of M.'s teachers had said tliey looked 
at her with perfect awe on account of her goodness. I reall) 
never knew her to do anvthincf wrono:. 



'& 



1 could write forever on the subject of Christian charit) 



304 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

y.^^ but I must say that in the case you refer to, I think 

Friend you accuse vourself unduly. We are not to part com- 
Kew York, ^ . ^ ^ -^ , ^ 

May I, pany with our common sense because we want tc 

^^^°* clasp hands with the Love that thinketh no evil, and 
we can not help seeing that there are few, if any, on earth with- 
out beams in their eyes and foibles and sins in their lives. The 
fact that your friend repented and confessed his sin, eniitled 
him to your forgiving love, but not to the ignoring of the fact 

that he was guilty Temptations come sometimes in 

swarms, like bees, and running away does no good, and fight- 
ing only exasperates them. The only help must come from. 
Him who understands and can control the whole swarm. 

You ask for my prayers, and I ask for yours. I long ago 
formed the habit of praying at night individually, if possible, 
for all who had come to me through the day, or w^hom I had 
visited ; but you contrive to get a much larger share than that. 
I love to think of your future holiness and usefulness as even 
in the very least linked to my prayers. Oh, I ought to know 
how to pray a great deal better than I do, for forty years ago, 
save one, I this day publicly dedicated myself to Christ. I 
write to you because I like to do so, recognising no difference 
between writing and talking. When no better work comes to 
me, I am glad to give the little pleasure I can, in notes and let- 
ters. He who knows how poor we are, how little we have to 
give, does not disdain even a note like this, since it is written 
in love to Him and to one of His own dear ones. 

May 23^. — Your last letter was like a fragrant breath of 
country air, redolent of flowers, and all that makes rural scenes 
so sweet. But better still, it was fragrant with love to Him 
who is the bond between us, in whose name and for whose 
sake we are friends. I wish I loved Him better and were more 
iike Him ; perhaps that is about as far as we get in this world, 
for no matter how far we advance, we are never satisfied ; there 
is always something ahead ; I doubt if any one ever said, even 
in a whisper and to himself, " Now I love my Saviour as much 
as a human soul can." 

You speak of my having given you " counsels." Have I had 
the presumption to do that? Two-thirds of the time I feel as 
if 1 wanted somebody to counsel me ; the only thing I really 
ivnow that you do not, is what it is to be beaten with persistent 



0\ THE MOUNT. 



305 



ceaseless stripes, year after year, year after year, with scarcely 
breathing time between. I don't know whether this is most an 
argument against me, or foj- God ; on the whole it is most for 
Him, who was so good and kind as never to spare me for my 
writhing and groaning. Truly as I value this discipline, I want 
you to give yourself to Him so unreservedly that you will not 
need such sharp treatment. I am not going to keep writing 
and getting you in debt. All I ask is if you ever feel a little 
under the weather and want a specially loving or cheering 
word, to give me the chance to speak or write it. 

A chapter might be written about Mrs. Prentiss' love for 
little children, the enthusiasm with which she studied all their 
artless ways, her delight in their beauty, and the reverence 
with which she regarded the mystery of their infant being. 
Her faith in their real, complete humanity, their susceptibility 
to spiritual influences, and, when called from earth, their blessed 
immortality in and through Christ, was very vivid ; and it was 
untroubled by any of those distressing doubts, or misgivings, 
that are engendered by the materialistic spirit and science of the 
age. Contempt for them shocked her as an offence against the 
Holy Child Jesus, their King and Saviour. Her very look and 
manner as she took a young infant, especially a sick or dying 
infant, in her arms and gave it a loving kiss, seemed to say : 

Sweet baby, little as thou art, 

Thou art a human whole ; 
Thou hast a little human heart, 

Thou hast a deathless soul.' 

The following letter to a Christian mother, dated May I3tli, 
will show her feeling on this subject : 

This morning we attended the funeral of a little baby, eight 
months old. My husband, in his remarks, said that th. »ugh born 
and ever continuing to be a sufferer, it was never saddened by 
this fellowship with Christ ; and that he believed it was a par- 
taker of His holiness, and glad through Ilis indwelling, even 
though unconscious of it. During the last days of its life, 
after each paroxysm of coughing, it would look first at its 

> Hartley Coleridge's Poems. \'t.l. II., p. 139. 
7.0 



306 THE LIFE CF MRS. PRENTISS. 

mother, then at its father, for sympathy, and then look upward 
with a face radiant beyond description. I can't tell you how 
it touched me to think that I had in that baby a little Christian 
sistcf —ndt merely redeemed, but sanctified from its birth — and 
I know it will touch and strengthen you to hear of it. I felt a 
reverence for that tiny, lifeless form, that I can not put into 
words. And, indeed, why should it be harder for God to enter 
into the soul of an infant than into our "unlikeliest " ones? 
.... I see more and more that if we have within us the mind 
of Christ, we must bear the burden of other griefs than our 
own ; He did not merely //(y suffering humanity ; He bore our 
griefs, and in all our afflictions He was afflicted. 

If you can get hold of the April number of the Bibliotheca 

Sacra, read an article in it called " Psychology in the 

a>ndZ\ Life, Work and Teachings of Jesus." I think it very 

ymiet, striking and very true. Praying for Dr. this 

morning, I had such a peaceful feeling that he was 
safe. Do you feel so about him ? I had a very different ex- 
perience about another man who has been to see me since I 
began this letter, and who said I was the first happy person he 
ever met. May God lay that to his heart ! . . . . Rummaging 
among dusty things in the attic this forenoon with great re- 
pugnance, I found such a beautiful letter from my husband, 
written for my solace in Switzerland when he was in Paris 
(he wrote me every day, sometimes twice a day, during 
the two months of our enforced separation) that even the 
drudgery of getting my hands soiled and my back broken was 
sweetened. That's the way God keeps on spoiling us ; one 
good thing after another till we are ashamed. Well, let us step 
onward, hand in hand. I wonder which of us will outrun the 
other and step i?i first ? I am so glad I'm willing to live. 

In the course of this spring The ParjswzLS published. The 
story first came out as a serial in the New York Observer. It 
was translated into French under the title La Famillc Percy. 
In 1876 a German version appeared under the title Die Fam- 
Hie Percy. It was also republished in London.' 

1 But greatly to Mrs. Prentiss' annoyance, with the title changed to Ever Heavenward 
— *5 if to make it appear to be a sequel to Stepping Heavenward. 



ON THE MOUNT. 307 



IIL 



[vines on going to Dorset. A Cloud over her. Faber's Life. Loving Friends for one'l 
own sake and loving them for Christ's sake. The Bible and the Ciiristiai. Life. 
Dorset Society and Occupations. Counsels to a young Friend in Trouble. " Don'l 
stop prayin;; for your Life ! " Cure for the Heart-sickness caused by a Sight of hu* 
man Imperfections. Fenelon's Teaching about Humihation and being patient w iib 
Ourselves. 

The following lines, found among lior papers after her 
death, show in what spirit she went to Dorset : 

Once more I change my home, once more begin 

Life in this rural stillness and repose ; 
But I have brought with me my heart of sin, 

And sin nor quiet nor cessation knows. 

Ah, when I make the final, blessed change, 

I shall leave that behind, shall throw aside 
Earth's soiled and soiling garments, and shall range 

Through purer regions like a youthful bride. 

Thrice welcome be that day ! Do thou, meanwhile. 

My soul, sit ready, unencumbered wait ; 
The Master bides thy coming, and His smile 

Shall bid thee welcome at the golden gate. 

Dorset, June 15, 1S70. 

I would love to have you herewith me in this dear little den 

of mine and see the mountains from my window. My 

2;mS; husband has gone back to town, and my only society 

^unTis, is that of the children, so you would be most welcome 

1870. ' if you should come in either smiling or sighing. I 

have had a cloud over me of late. Do you know about Mr. 

Pr-entiss' appointment by General Assembly to a professorship 

at Chicago ? His going would involve not only our tearing 

ourselves out of the heart of our beloved church, but of niy 

losing you and Miss K., and of our all losing this dear little 

home. Of course, he does not want to go, and I am shocked 

at the thought of his leaving the ministry; but, on the other 

hand, there is a right and a wrong to the question, and wc 

ought to want to do whatever God chooses. The thought of 

giving up this home makes me know better how to sympathise 



308 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

with you if you have to part with yours. I do think it is good 
for us to be emptied from vessel to vessel, and there is some- 
thing awful in the thought of having our own way with lean- 
ness in the soul, I am greatly pained in reading Faber's Lite 
and Letters, at the shocking way in which he speaks of Mary, 
calling her his mamma, and praying to her and to Joseph, and 
nobody knows who not. It seems almost incredible that this 
is the man who wrote those beautiful strengthening hymns. 
It sets one to praying " Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe." 
.... I should have forgotten the lines of mine you quote if 
you had not copied them. God give to you and to me a thou- 
sandfold more of the spirit they breathe, and make us wholly, 
wholly His own ! My repugnance to go to Chicago makes m^ 
feel that perhaps that is just the wrench I need. Well, good- 
bye ; at the longest we have not long to stay in this sphere o\ 
discipline and correction. 

I had just come home from a delicious little tramp through 
our own woods when your letter came, and now, if 
G. s\ A, you knew what was good for you, you would drop in 
7u/Ti3 ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^ spend the evening with us. I should 
^^7°- like 3^ou to see our house and our mountains, and our 
cup that runs over till we are ashamed. Had I not known you 
wouldn't come I should have given you a chance, especially as 
my husband was gone and I v/as rather lonely ; though to be 
sure he always writes me every day. On the way up here I 
was glad of time to think out certain things I had been waiting 
for leisure to attend to. One had some connection with you, 
as well as one or two other friends. I had long felt that there 
was a real, though subtle, difference between human — and, 
shall I say divine ? — affection, but did iiOt see just what it vv^as. 
Turning it over in my mind that day, it suddenly came to me 
as this. Human friendship may be entirely selfish, giving only 
to receive in return, or may be partially so — yet still selfish. 
But the love that grows out of the love of Christ, and that de- 
lights in His image wherever it is seen, claims no response ; 
loves because it is its very nature to do so, because it can not 
help it, and this without regard to what its object gives. 1 
dare not pretend that I have fully reached this state, but 1 
have entered this land, and know that it is one to be desired as 



ON TH1-: Mount 



309 



a home, an abiding place. I have thought painfully of the nar- 
row quarters and the hot nights endured by so many in New 
York, during this unusually warm weather — especially of Mrs 
G. with three restless children in bed with her and her pooi 
lonely heart. I can not but believe that Christ has real pur- 
poses of mercy to her soul. I feel interested in Mr. II. 's sum- 
mer work in a hard field. In place of aversion to young men, 
I am beginning to realise how true work for Christ one may du 
by praying persistently for them, especially those consecrated to 
the ministry of His gospel. I do hope Christ will have the 
whole of you, and that you will have the whole of Him. When 
you write, let me know how you like my beloved Fenelon. 
Still, you may not like him. Some Christians never get to feed- 
ing on these mystical writers, and get on without them. 

I was greatly struck with these words yesterday : ^' As for 
ro Mrs ^°^ ^^^ '^^^y ^^ perfect"; think of reading the Bible 
Cojidict, througfh four times in one year, and nobody knuws 

JJorsef, ^ . . , ' . , 

JuiyiS, how many times smce, and never resting on these 
^ ^°" words. Somehow they charmed mc. And these words 
have been ringing in my ears, 

•' Earth looks so little and so low," 

while conscious that when I can get ferns and flowers, it does 
not look so "little" or so "low," as it does when I c:in't. My 
cook, who is a Romanist, has been prevented from going to 
her own church seven miles off, by the weather, ever since we 
came here, and last Sunday said she meant to go to ours. Mr. 
P. preached on God's character as our Physician, and she was 
delighted. I think it was hearing one of his little letters to 
the children that made her realise, that he was a Christian man 
whom she might safely hear ; at any rate, I feel greatly pleased 
and comforted that she could appreciate such a subject. I feat 
you are suffering from the weather; we never knew anything 
like it here. We do not suffer, but wake up every morning 
bat/icd in a breeze that refreshes for the day ; I mean we do not 
suffer while we keep still. I am astonished at God's goodness in 
giving us this place ; not His goodness itself, but towards us. If 
Mrs. Brinsmade' left much of such material as the extract you 
Wife of the late Rev. Horatio Erinsmadc, D.D., of Newark, N. J. 



310 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

sent me, I wonder Dr. B. did not write her memoir. The more 
I read of what Christ said about faith, the more impressed 1 
am. Just now I am on the last chapters in the gospel of John, 
and feel as if I had never read them before. They are just 
wonderful. We have to read the Bible to understand the Chris- 
tian life, and we must penetrate far into that life in order to 
understand the Bible. How beautifully the one interprets the 
other ! I want you to let me know, without telling her that I 
asked 3^ou, if Miss K. could make me a visit if it were not for 
the expense ? 

Did you ever use a fountain pen ? I have had one given me, 
To Miss E. ^^^ lik^ it so much that I sent for one for my hus- 
A. Warner, band, and one for Mr. Pratt. When one wants to 

Dorset, ' 

July 20, write in one's lap, or out of doors, it is delightful. 
' ■ Mrs. Field came over from East Dorset on Sunday to 
have her baby baptized. They had him there in the church 
through the whole morning service, and he was as quiet as any 
of us. The next day Mrs. F. came down and spent the morning 
with me, sweeter, more thoughtful than ever, if changed at all. 
Dr. and Mrs. Humphrey, of Philadelphia, are passing the sum- 
mer here at the tavern, and we spend most of our evenings 
there, or they come here. Mrs. H. is a very superior woman, 
and though I was determined not to like her, because I have so 
many people on hand already, I found I could not help it. She 
is as furious about mosses and lichens and all such things as I 
am, and the other day took home a bushcl-baskct of them. She 
is an earnest Christian, and has passed through deep waters ; I 
ought to have reversed the order of those clauses. Excuse this 
rather hasty letter ; I feared you might fancy your book lost. 
If you are alive, let me know it, also if you are dead. 

I dare not answer your letter, just received, in my own 
To a young Strength, but must pray over it long. It is a great 
2;;Sf' ^^i"S ^° learn how far our doubts and despondencies 
Aug. 8^ are the direct result of physical causes, and another 
^ ^°' great thing is, when we can not trace any such con- 
nexion, to bear patiently and quietly what God permits, if He 
does not authorise. I have no more doubt that you love Him, and 
that He loves you, than that I love Him and that He loves me. 
Vou have been daily in my prayers. Temptations and c^nflicl 



ON THE MOUNT. 3II 

are inseparable from the Christian life ; no strange thing has 
happened to you. Let me comfort you with the assurance that 
you will be taught more and more by God's Spirit how to re- 
sist ; and that true strength and holy manhood will spring up 
from this painful soil. Try to take heart ; there is more tlian 
one foot-print on the sands of time to prove that "some forlorn 
and shipwrecked brother" has traversed them before you, and 
come off conqueror through the Beloved. Doiit stop praying for 
yam' life. Be as cold and emotionless as you please ; God will 
accept your naked faith, when it has no glow or warmth in it ; 
and in His own time the loving, glad heart will come back to 
you. I deeply feel for and with you, and have no doubt that a 
week among these mountains would do more towards uniting 
you to Christ than a mile of letters would. You can't complain 
of any folly to which I could not plead guilty. I have put my 
Saviour's patience to every possible test, and how I love Ilim 
when I think what He will put up with. 

You ask if I "ever feel that religion is a sham"? No, 
never. I kiww it is a reality. If you ask if I am ever staggered 
bv the inconsistencies of professing Christians, I say yes, I am 
often made heartsick by them ; but heartsickness always makes 
me run to Christ, and one good look at Him pacifies me. This 
is in fact my panacea for every ill ; and as to my own sinful- 
ness, that would certainly overwhelm me if I spent much time 
in looking at it. But it is a monster whose face I do not love 
to see ; I turn from its hideousness to the beauty of His face 
who sins not, and the sight of "yon lovely Man" ravishes me. 
But at your age I did this only by fits and starts, and suffered 
as you do. So I know how to feel for you, and what to ask for 
you, God purposely sickens us of man and of self, that we 
may learn to "look long at Jesus." 

And this brings me to what you say about Fenclon's going 
too far, when he says we may judge of the depth of our humil- 
ity by our delight in humiliation, etc. No, he does not go a 
bit too far. Paul says, "I will glory in my infirmities"—"! 
12^^. pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in jn-r- 
secution, in distresses for Christ's sake ; for when I am weak, 
then am I strong." I think this a great attainment ; but that 
His disciples may reach it, though only through a humbling, 
painful process. Then as to God's glory. Wc say, "Man's 



312 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Now, can 
we enjoy Him till we do glorify Him ? Can we enjoy Him 
while living for ourselves, while indulging in sin, while prayer- 
less and cold and dead ? Does not God directly seek our high- 
est happiness when He strips us of vainglory and self-love, em- 
bitters the poisonous draught of mere human felicity, and 
makes us fall down before Him lost in the sense of His beauty 
and desirableness ? The connexion between glorifying and en- 
joying Him is, to my mind, perfect — one following as the neces- 
sary sequence of the other ; and facts bear me out in this. He 
who has let self go and lives only for the honor of God, is the 
free, the happy man. He is no longer a slave, but has the lib- 
erty of the sons of God; for "him who honors me, I will 
honor." Satan has befogged you on this point. He dreads to 
see you ripen into a saintly, devoted, useful man. He hopes 
to overwhelm and ruin you. But he will not prevail. You have 
solemnly given yourself to the Lord ; you have chosen the 
work of winning and feeding souls as your life-work, and you 
can not, must not go back. These conflicts are the lot of those 
who are training to be the Lord's true yoke-fellows. Christ's 
sweetest consolations lie behind crosses, and He reserves His 
best things for those who have the courage to press forward, 
fighting for them. I entreat you to turn your eyes away from 
self, from man, and look to Christ. Let me assure you, as a 
fellow-traveller, that I have been on the road and know it well, 
and that by and by there won't be such a dust on it. You will 
meet with hindrances and trials, but will fight quietly through, 
and no human ear hear the din of battle, no human eye per- 
ceive fainting or halting or fall. May God bless you, and be- 
come to you an ever-present, joyful reality ! Indeed He will ; 
only wait patiently. 

In glancing over this, I see that I have here and there re- 
peated myself. Do excuse it. I believe it is owing to the way 
the flies harass and distract me. 

August i']th. — I feel truly grateful to God if I have been of 
any comfort to you. I know only too well the shock of seeing 
professors of even sinless perfection guilty of what I consider 
sinful sin, and my whole soul was so staggered that for some 
days I could not pray, but could only say, " O God, if there be 
any God, come to my rescue." .... But God loves bettei 



ox THE MOUNT. 313 

than He knows us, and foresaw every infidelity before He 
called us to Himself. Nothing in us takes Him, therefore, by 
surprise. Fenelon teaches wiiat no other writei does — to be 
"patient with ourselves," and I think as you penetrate into tlie 
Christian life, you will agree with him on every point as I do. 

August \()t/L — I have had a couple of rather sickish days since 
writing the above, but am all right again now. Hot weather 
does not agree with me. I used to reproach myself for relig- 
ious stupidity when not well, but see now that God is my kind 
Father — not my hard taskmaster, expecting me to be full of 
life and zeal when physically exhausted. It takes long to learn 
such lessons. One has to penetrate deeply into the heart of Christ 
to begin to know its tenderness and sympathy and forbearance. 

You can't imagine how Miss K. has luxuriated in her visit, 
nor how good she thinks we all are. She holds views to which 
I can not quite respond, but I do not condemn or reject them. 
She is a modest, praying, devoted woman ; not disposed to ob- 
trude, much less to urge her opinions ; full of Christian char- 
ity and forbearance ; and I am truly thankful that she prays 
for me and mine ; in fact, she loves to pray so, that when she 
gets hold of a new case, she acts as one does who has found a 
treasure. 

I wish you were looking out with me on the beautiful array 
of mountains to be seen from every window of our house and 
breathing this delicious air. 

September 25///. — We expect now to go home on Friday next, 
though if I had known how early the foliage was going to turn 
this year, I should have planned to stay a week longer to see 
it in all its glory. It is looking very beautiful even now, and 
our eyes have a perpetual feast. We have had a charming 
summer, but one does not want to play all the time, and I hope 
God has work of some sort for me to do at home during the 
winter. Meanwhile, I wush I could send you a photograph of 
the little den where I am now writing, and the rustic adornings 
which make it sui generis, and the bit of Avoods to be seci. from 
its windows, that, taking the lead of all other Dorset woods, 
have put on floral colors, just because they are ours and know 
we want them looking their best before we go away. But this 
wish must yield to fate, like many another ; and, as I have 
come to the end of my paper, I will love and leave you. 



314 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

IV. 

The Story Lizzie Told. Country and City. The Law of Christian Progress. Letlen 
to a Friend bereft of three Children. Sudden Death of another Friend. " Go on 
step faster." Fenelon and his Influence upon her religious Life. Lines on her In 
debtedness to him. 

The Story Lizzie Told \Yd.s published about this time. It 
had already appeared in the Rivcx-side Magazine. The occa- 
sion of the story was a passage in a letter from London writ- 
ten by a friend, which described in a very graphic and touch- 
ing way the yearly exhibition of the Society for the Promo- 
tion of Window Gardening among the Poor. The exhibition 
was held at the '' Dean's close" at Westminster and the Earl 
of Shaftesbury gave the prizes.' 

No one of Mrs. Prentiss's smaller works, perhaps, has been 
so much admired as The Story Lizzie Told. It was written at 
Dorset in the course of a single day, if not at a single sitting ; 
and so real was the scene to her imagination that, on reading 
it in the evening to her husband, she had to stop again and 
again from the violence of her emotion. ''What a little fool 
I am 1 " she would say, after a fresh burst of tears.' 

' "Polly" was particularly happy; six years old, I should say, shabby, though evi- 
dently washed up for the occasion, and very pretty and all pink with excitement. 
" Polly, I knowcd you'd get a prize," I heard a young woman, tired out with canying 
her own big baby, say. And then she came upon her own geranium with three blossoms 
on it and marked " Second Prize," and said, " I can't believe it," when they told her that 
that meant six shillings. But the plant which my companion and myself both cried over, 
was a Httlc bit of a weedy marigold, the one poor httle flower on it carefully fastened 
about with a paper ring, such a- high and mighty greenhouse men sometimes put round 
A choice rose in bud. That was all ; just this one common, very single little flower, with 
*' Lizzie" Something's name attached and the name of her street. All the streets were 
put upon the tickets and added greatly to the pathetic effect ; just the poorest lanes and 
alleys in London. Nobody seemed to claim the marigold. Perhaps it was the great 
treasure of some sick child wlio couldn't come to look at it. It was certain not to get a 
prize, but the child has found something by this time tucked down in the pot and care- 
fully covered over by F., when no one was looking, with a pinch of earth taken from a 
more prosperous plant alongside. 

2 Miss W. showed me a very pleasant letter of Lady Augusta Stanley, the wife of 
Dean Stanley, to a MissC, through whom she received from Miss W.'s little niece a 
copy of The Story Lizzie Told. Lady Stanley is herself, I believe, at the head of the Si) 
riety which holds the annual Flower Show. She says in her letter that me had just re 
turned from Scotland, reaching home quite late in the evening. Before retiring, how 
fver, she had read your story through. She praises it very warmly, and wonders ho\« 
anybody but a "Londoner" could have written it.— Z,6'//^; to Mrs. P., dated Neu 
York, September, 1872. 



ON Till:: MOUNT. 



315 



Your letter catne in the midst of the wear and tear of A.'£ 
_ ,, return to us. We were kept in suspense about her 

To Mrs. TV T 1 1 1 

Leonard, from Monday, when she was due, till , Friday when she 
^'Z^'cLiL^' came, and it is years since I have got so excited and 
1S70. wrought up. They had a dreadful passage, but she 
v\'as not sick at all. Prof. Smith is looking better than I ever 
saw him, and we are all most happy in being together once 
more. I can truly re-echo your wish that you lived half way 
between us and Dorset, for then we should see you once a y(.'ar 
at least. I miss you and long to see you. How true it is that 
each friend has a place of his own that no one else can fill ! I 
do not doubt that the 13th of October was a silvery wedding- 
day to your dear husband. His loss has made Christ dearer tu 
you, and so has made your union more perfect. I suppose you 
were never so much one as you are now. 

We have had a delightful summer, not really suffering from 
the heat ; though, of course, we felt it more or less. All our 

nights were cool I can not tell you how Mr. P. and myself 

enjoy our country home. It seems as if we had slipped into our 
proper nook. But if we are going to do any more brain work, 
we must be where there is stimulus, such as we find here. 
What a mixed-up letter ! I have almost forgotten how to 
write, in adorning my house and sowing my seeds and the like, 

I deeply appreciate the Christian kindness that prompted 
you to write me in the midst of your sorrow. I was 

To Mrs. ^ -^ 

Frederick prepared for the sad news by a dream only last night. 

Nexv^York, ^ fancied myself seeing your dear little boy lying very 
Oct 19, restlessly on his bed, and proposing to carry him 
about in my arms to relieve him. He made no ob- 
jection, and I walked up and down with him a long, long 
lime, when some one of the family took him from me. In- 
stantly his face was illumined by a wondrous smile of delight 
that he was to leave the arms of a stranger to go to those fa- 
miliar to him — such a smile, that when I awoke this morning 1 
Gaid to myself, "Eddy Field has gone to the arms of his Sav- 
iour, and gone gladly." You can imagine how your letter, an 
hour or two later, touched me. But you have better consola- 
tion than dreams can give ; in the belief that your child will de- 
velop, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, into the per- 



3l6 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRExNTISS. 

feet likeness of Christ, and in your own submission to the un 
erring will of God. I sometimes think that patient sufferers 
suffer most ; they make less outer}' than others, but the grief 
tliat has little vent wears sorely. 

" Grace does not steel the faithful heart 
That it should feel no ill," 

and you have many a pang yet before you. It must be so very 
hard to see twin children part company, to have their paths di- 
verge so soon. But the shadow of death will not always rest 
on your home ; you will emerge from its obscurity into such a 
light as they who have never sorrowed can not know. We 
never know, or begin to know, the great Heart that loves us 
best, till we throw ourselves upon it in the hour of our despair. 
Friends say and do all they can for us, but they do not know 
what we suffer or what we need ; but Christ, who formed, has 
penetrated the depths of the mother's heart. He pours in the 
wine and the oil that no human hand possesses, and " as one 
whom his mother comforteth, so will He comfort you." I have 
lived to see that God never was so good to me as when He 
seemed most severe. Thus I trust and believe it will be with 
you and your husband. Meanwhile, while the peaceable fruits 
are growing and ripening, may God help you through the 
grievous time that must pass — a grievous time in which you 
have my warm sympathy. I know only too well all about it. 

" I know my griefs ; but then my consolations, 
My joys, and my immortal hopes I know " — 

joys unknown to the prosperous, hopes that spring from seed 
long buried in the dust. 

I shall read your books with great interest, I am sure, and 
who knows how God means to prepare you for future useful- 
ness along the path of pain ? " Every branch that beareth 
fr:it He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." 

What an epitaph your boy's own words would be — "It is 
beautiful to be dead " ! 

I thank you so much for your letter about your precious cliil- 

^ , dren. I remember them well, all three, and do not won- 
To the ' 

Same, der that the death of your iirst-born, coming upon the 

Nov. 30, ' very footsteps of sorrow, has so nearly crushed you 

1870. j^ut what beautiful consolations God gave you by his 



ON THE MOUNT. 317 

dying bed! "All safe at God's right hand ! " What more can 
the fondest mother's heart ask than such safety as this ? I am 
sure that there will come to you, sooner or later, the sense of 
Christ's love in these repeated sorrows, that in your present 
bewildered, amazed state you can hardly realise. Let me tell 
you that I have tried His heart in a long storm — not so very 
different from yours — and that I know something of its depths. 
I will enclose you some lines that may give you a moment's 
light. Please not to let them go out of your hands, for no one 
— not even my husband — has ever seen them. I am going to 
send my last book to your lonely little boy. You will not feel 
like reading it now, but perhaps the 33d chapter, and some that 
follow, may not jar upon you as the earlier part would. 

To go back again to the subject of Christ's love for us, of 
which I never tire, I want to make you feel that His sufferers 
are Flis happiest, most favored disciples. What they learn 
about Him — His pitifulness, His unwillingness to hurt us. His 
haste to bind up the very wounds He has inflicted — endear 
Him so, that at last they burst out into songs of thanksgiving, 
that His "donation of bliss" included in it such donation of 
pain. Perhaps I have already said to you, for I am fond o^ 
saying it, 

"The love of Jesus — what it is, 
Only His sufferers know." 

You ask if your heart will ever be lightsome again. Never 
again with the lightsomeness that had never known sorrow 
but light even to gayety with the new and higher love born of 
tribulation. Just as far as a heavenly is superior even to ma- 
ternal love, will be the elevation and beauty of your now joy ; 
a joy worth all it costs. I know what sorrow means ; I know it 
well. But I know, too, what it is to pass out of that prison- 
house into a peace that passes all understanding ; and thou- 
sands can say the same. So, my dear suffering sister, look on 
and look up ; lay hold on Christ with both your poor ^ empty hatuh ; 
let Him do with you what seemeth Him good ; though Ho 
siay \ou, still trust in Him ; and I dare in His name to prom- 
ise }0u a sweeter, better life than you could have known had 
He left you to drink of the full, dangerous cups of unmingled 
prosperity. I feel such real and living sympathy with you, tliat 
I would love to spend weeks by your side, trying to bind up 



3l8 THE LIFE OF MRS. I'REXTISS. 

your broken heart. But for the gospel of Christ, to hear ol 
such bereavements as yours would appall, would madden one 
Yet, what a halo surrounds that word "but" ! 

I have not behaved according to my wont, and visited the 

To Miss ^'■■^'^ ^^'^^^ ^y ""^^'"^y ^^ ^ letter. And by this time I hope 

E. A. War- yo-^x are quite well again, and do not need ghostly 

YotV, Dec. counsels I have felt very badly about Miss Ly- 

14, 1870. j^^^n's dying at Vassar, but since Mrs. S.'s visit and 
learning how beloved she is there, have changed my mind. 
What does it matter, after all, from what point of time or space 
we go home ; how we shall smile, after we get there, that we 
ever gave it one moment's thought ! You ask what I am do- 
ing ; well, I am taking a vacation and not writing anything to 
speak of, yet just as busy as ever ; not one moment in which to 
dawdle, though I dare say I seem to the folks here at home to 
be sitting round doing nothing. I must give you a picture of 
one day and you must photograph one of yours, as we have 
done before. Got up at seven and went through the usual 
forms ; had prayers and breakfast, and started off to school 
with M. Came home and had a nice quiet time reading, etc. ; 
at eleven went to my meeting, which was a tearful one, as one 
of our members who knelt with us only a week before, was this 
day to be buried out of our sight. She was at church on Sun- 
day afternoon at four p.m., to present her baby in baptism, and 
at half-past two the following morning was in heaven. We all 
went together to the funeral after the meeting, and gathered 
round the coffin with the feeling that she belonged to us. 
When I got home I found a despatch from Miss W., saying 
they should be here right away. I had let one of my women 
go out of town to a sick sister, so I must turn chamber-maid 
and make the bed, dust, clear out closet, cupboard, and bureau 
forthwith. This done, they arrived, which took the time till 
half-past seven, when I excused myself and went to an evening 
meeting, knowing it would be devoted to special prayer for the 
husband and children of her who had gone. Got home half 
an hour behind time and found a young man awaiting me v/ho 
was converted last June, as he hopes, while reading Stepping 
Heavenward. I had just got seated by him when our doctor 
tvas announced ; he had lost his only grandchild and had come 



ON Tin-: MOUNT. y^ 

to talk about it. He stayed till half-past nine, when I went 
back to my young friend, who stayed till half-past ten and 
gave a very interesting history which I have not time to put on 
paper. He writes me since, how^ever, about his Christian lite 
that " it gets sweeter and sweeter," and I know you will be giad 
(or me that I have this joy. 

Saturday Morning. — I was interrupted there, had visitors, had 
lo go to a fair, company again, so that I had not time to ea* 
the food I needed, w^ent to see a poor sick girl, had more visitors 
and at last, at eleven p.m., scrambled into bed. Now I am fin- 
ishing this, and if nobody hinders, am going to mail it, and 
then go after a block of ice-cream for that sick girl (isn't it 
nice, w^e can get it now done up in little boxes, just about as 
much as an invalid can eat at one time). Then I am going to 
see a poor afflicted soul that can't get any light on her sorrow. 
Here comes my dear old man to read his sermon, so good-bye. 

I have been led, during the last month or two, to a new love 

To a young of the Holy Spirit, or perhaps to more consciousness 

5^20* ^^ ^^^^ silent, blessed work He is doing in and for us 

1870. and for those whose souls lie as a heavy and yet a swce: 
burden upon our own. And joining with you in your prayers, 
seeking also for myself what I sought for you, I found myself 
almost startled by such a response as I can not describe. It 
was not joy, but a deep solemnity wdiich enfolded me as with a 
garment, and if I ever pass out of it, which I never want to do, 
T hope it will be with a heart more than ever consecrated and 
set apart for Christ's service. The more I reliect and the more 
I pray, the more life narrows down to one point — What am I 
being for Christ, what am I doing for Him ? Why do I tell 
you this ? Because the voice of a fellow-traveller alwa}s stimu- 
lates his brother-pilgrim ; what one finds and speaks of and 
rejoices over, sets the other upon determining^ to find too. God 
has been very good to you, as well as to me, but we ought to 
whisper to each other now and then, " Go on, step faster, step 
sarer, lay hold on the Rock of Ages with both hands." Vou 
never need be afraid to speak such words to me. I want to be 
pushed on, and pulled on, and coaxed on. 

The allusion to her " beloved Fenclon," in several of the 



320 THE IJFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

preceding letters, renders this a suitable place to say a word 
about him and his influence upon her religious character. 
*' Fenelon I lean on," she wrote. Her delight in his writings 
dated back more than a quarter of a century, and continued, 
unabated, to the end of her days. She regarded him with a 
sort of personal affection and reverence. Her copy of '' Spiiit- 
ual Progress," composed largely of selections from his works, 
is crowded with pencil-marks expressive of her sympathy and 
approval ; not even her Imitation of Christ, Sacra Privata, 
Pilgrim's Progress, Saints' Everlasting Rest, or Leighton on 
the First Epistle of Peter, contain so many. These pencil- 
marks are sometimes very emphatic, underscoring or inclosing 
now a single word, now a phrase, anon a whole sentence oi 
paragraph ; and it requires but little skill to decipher, in these 
rude hieroglyphics, the secret history of her soul for a third 
of a century — one side, at least, of this history. What she 
sought with the greatest eagerness, what she most loved and 
most hated, her spiritual aims, struggles, trials, joys and hopes, 
may here be read between the lines. And a beautiful testi- 
mony they give to the moral depth, purity and nobleness of 
her piety I 

The story is not, indeed, complete; her religious life had 
other elements, not found, or only partially found, in Fenelon ; 
elements centering directly in Christ and His gospel, and 
which had their inspiration in her Daily Food and her New 
Testament. What attracted her to Fenelon was not the doc- 
trine of salvation as taught by him — she found it better taught 
in Bunyan and Leighton — it was his marvellous knowledge of 
the human heart, his keen insight into the proper workings of 
nature and grace, his deep spiritual wisdom, and the sweet 
m}^stic tone of his piety. And then the two great principles 
pervading his writings — that of pure love to God and that of 
self-crucifixion as the way to perfect love — fell in with some 
of her own favorite views of the Christian life. In the study 
of Fenelon, as of Madame Guyon, her aim was a purely prac- 
tical one; it was not to establish, or verify, a theory, but to 
get aid and comfort in her daily course heavenward. What 
Fenelon was to her in this respect she has herself recorded in 



UN THE MOUNT. 



321 



the following lines, found, after her death, written on a blank 
page of her '' Spiritual Progress ": 

Oh wise and thoughtful words ! oh counsel sweet, 
Guide in my wanderings, spurs unto my feet, 
How often you have met me on the way, 
And turned me from the path that led astray; 
Teaching that fault and folly, sin and fall. 
Need not the weary pilgrim's heart appall : 
Yea more, instructing how to snatch the sting 
From timid conscience, how to stretch the wing 
From the low plane, the level dead of sin. 
And mount immortal, mystic joys to win. 
One hour with Jesus ! How its peace outweighs 
The ravishment of earthly love and praise ; 
How dearer far, emptied of self to lie 
Low at His feet, and catch, perchance. His eye. 
Alike content when He may give or take, 
The sweet, the bitter, welcome for His sake ! 



21 



CHAPTER XI. 

IN HER HOME. 

The letters in the preceding chapters give a gh'mpse, here 
and there, of Mrs. Prentiss' home, but relate chiefly to the re- 
ligious side of her character. What was her manner of life 
among her children? How were her temper and habits as a 
mother affected by the ardor and intensity of her Christian 
feeling ? A partial answer to these questions is contained in 
letters written to her eldest daughter, while the latter was 
absent in Europe. These letters show the natural side of her 
character; and although far from reflecting all its light and 
beauty — no words could do that ! — they depict some of its 
most interesting traits. They are frankness itself and betray 
not the least respect of persons ; but if she speaks her mind in 
them without much let or hindrance, it is always done in the 
pleasantest way. In the portions selected for publication the 
aim has been to let her be seen, so far as possible, just as she 
appeared in her daily home-life, both in town and country. 



I. 



Home-life in New York. 

New York, October -zi^ 1869. 
I HAVE promised to walk to school with M. this morning, 
and while I am waiting for her to get ready, will begin my let- 
ter to yon. We got home from seeing you off all tired out, and 
I lay on the sofa all the time till I went to bed, except while 
eating my dinner, and I think papa did pretty much the same. 
The moment we had done dinner, H. and Jane appeared, carry- 
ing your bureau drawer between them, and we had a great time 
(322) 



TN ITER TTOMF. 



;^3 



over the presents you were thouglitful enoiirrh to leave behiiul 
you. My little sacque makes me look like 500 angels instead 
of one, and I am ever so glad of it, and the children were all 
delighted with their things. 

Well, I have escorted M. to school, come home and read the 
Advance, and Hearth and Home, and it is now eleven o'clock 
and the door-bell has only rung twice ! Papa says you are out 
(•f sight of land, and as it is a warm day and we are comfort- 
able, we hope you are. But it is dreadful to have to wait so 
long before hearing. 

23^/. — Papa says this must be mailed by nine o'clock ; so I 
have hurried up from breakfast to finish it. Mr. and Mrs. S. 
spent most of last evening with us. They shouted over my 
ferrotypes. Mr. also called and expressed as much sur- 
prise at your having gone to Europe as if the sky had fallen. 
I read my sea-journal to the children last evening, and though 
it is very flat and meagre in itself, H., to whom it was all brand 
new, thought it ought to be published forthwith. No time for 
another word but love to all the S.'s, big and little, high and 
low, great and small. Your affectionate Mammy. 

Oct. 2W1. — I can hardly believe that it is only a week to- 
day that we saw you and your big steamer disappear from 
view. H. said last night that it seemed to him one hundred 
years ago, and we all said amen. So how do you suppose it 
will seem ten months hence? I hope you do not find the time 
so long. I take turns waiting upon the children to school, 
which they are very strict about, and they enjoy their teachers 
amazingly. 

I received this morning a very beautiful and touching let- 
ter from a young lady in England about the Susy books. Thoy 
are associated in her mind and those of her family with a 
*• Little Pearlie " whose cunning little photograph she enclosed, 
who taught herself to read in a fortnight from one of them, 
and w^as read to from it on her dying bed, and after she be- 
came speechless she made signs to have her head wet as Susy's 
was. I never received such a letter among all I have had. 
Randolph sent me twelve copies of Stepping Heavenward, and 
I have had my hands full packing and sending them. M. is 
reading aloud to H. a charming story called "Alone in Lon- 
don." I am sure I could not xkvm\ it aloud without cryinLC- 



324 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

The following is the letter from England: 

To THE Author of " Little Susy ": 

I feel as if I had a perfect right to call you " My dear friei.d," so muck 
have I thought of you this last year and a half. Bear with me while 1 tell 
you why. A year ago last Christmas we were a large family — father, 
mother, and eight children, of whom I, who address you, am the eldest. 
The youngest was of course the pet, our bright little darling, rather more 
than five. That Christmas morning, of course, there were gifts for all ; and 
among the treasures in the smallest stocking was a copy of " Little Susy's 
Six Teachers," for which I desire to thank you now. Many times I have 
tried to do so, but I could not ; the trouble which came upon us was too 
great and awful in its suddenness. Little Pearl, so first called in the days 
f a fragile babyhood — Dora Margaret was her real name — taught herself 
o read from her " Little Susy," during the first fortnight she had it. And 
she would sit for hours, literally, amusing and interesting herself by it. She 
talked constantly of the Six Teachers, and a word about them was enough 
to quell any rising naughtiness. " Pearlie, what would Mr. Ought say ? " or 
" Don't grieve Mrs. Love," was always sufficient. Do you know what it is 
to have one the youngest in a large family? My darling was seventeen 
years younger than I. I left school when she was born to take the over- 
sight of the nursery, which dear mamma's illness and always delicate health 
prevented her from doing. I had nursed her in her illnesses, dressed her, 
made the little frocks — now laid so sadly by — and to all the rest of us she 
nad been more like a child than a sister. Friends used to say, " It is a 
wonder that child is not spoiled "; but they could never say she was. 
Merry, full of life and fun she always was, quick and intelligent, full of droll 
sayings which recur to us now with such a pain. From Christmas to the 
end of February we often remarked to one another how good that child 
was ! laughing and playing from morning to night, yet never unruly or 
wild. That February we had illness in the house. Jessie, the next young- 
est, had diphtheria, but she recovered, and we trusted all danger was 
passed, when one Monday evening — the last in the month — our darling 
seemed ill. The next day we recognised the sjmptoms we had seen in 
Jessie, and the doctor was called in. Tuesday and Wednesday he came 
and gave no hint of danger, but on Wednesday night we perceived a 
change and on Thursday came the sentence: No hope. Oh friend, dear 
friend ! how can I tell you of the long hours when we could not help our 
darling— of the dark night when, forbidden the room from the malignity of 
the case, we went to bed to coax mamma to do so— of the grey February 
dawn when there came the words, " Our darling is qinii! well now " — quite 
well, forever taken from the evil to come. 

The Sunday night before, she came into the parlor with "Susy" undei 
her arm and petitioned foi some one to read the " Teachers' meeting ' 



IN iii:r iio.Mi:. 



32s 



"Why, you read it twice this afternoon," said one. " Yes, I know — but it's 
so nice," was the reply. " Pearlie will be six in September," said the gen- 
tle mother; "we must have a Teachers' meeting lor her, I think." " But 
perhaps I sha'n't ever be six," said the little one. "Oh Pearlie, why do you 
say so } " " Well, people don't all be six, you knt)w," affirmed our darlinj^ 
with solemn eyes and two dimples in the rosy cheeks, that were hid forcvii 
from us before the next Sabbath day. 

On the Wednesday we borrowed from a little friend the other books o( 
thi^ 3eries, thinking they might aftbrd some amusement for the weary hours 
of illness, and Annie, my next sister, read four of the birthdays to her and then 
wished to stop, fearing she might be too fatigued. " No, read one more," 
was the request, and " That will do — I'm five, read the last to-morrow," she 
said, when it was complied with. Ah me ! with how many tears we took 
up that book again. That Wednesday she sat up in bed, a glass of medi- 
cine in her hand. "Mamma," she said, " Miss Joy has gone quite away 
and only left Mr. Pain. She can't come back till my throat is well." " But 
Mrs. Love is here, is she not ? " " Oh, yes," and the dear heavy eyes turned 
from one to another. In the night, when she lay dying, came intervals of 
consciousness ; in one of these she took her handkerchief and gave it to 
papa, who watched by her, asking him to wet it and put it on her head. 
When he told us, we recollected the incident when Susy in the favorite book 
was ill. And can you undtsrstand how our hearts felt very tender toward 
you and we said you must be thanked. I should weary you if I told you 
all the incidents that presented themselves of how sweet and good she was 
in her illness ; how in the agony of those last hours, when no fear of infec- 
tion could restrain the passionate kisses papa was showering on her, tlie 
dear voice said with a slop and an effort between each word, " Don't kiss 
me on my mouth, papa; you may catch it "; how everything she asked for 
was prefaced by " please," how self was always last in her thoughts. " I'm 
keeping you awake, you darling." " Don't stand there — you'll be so tired — 
sit down or go down-stairs, if you like." 

I will send you a photograph of little Pearlie ; it is the best we have, but 
was taken when she was only two years old. She was very small lor lu-r 
age and had been very delicate until the last year of her life. 

In writing thus to thank you I am not only doing an act of justice to 
yourself, but fulfilling wishes no'v rendered binding. Often atul often my 
dear mamma said, " How I wish vve knew the lady who wrote Little Susy : " 
Her health, alwaj^s delicate, never recovered from the shock of Pearlii's 
death, and suddenly, on tlie morning of the first of May, the Angel ol 
Death darkened our dwelling with the shadow of his wings. Not long did 
he linger -only two hours— and our mother had left us. She was witli her 
treasure and the Saviour, who said so lovingly on earth, " Come unto Mc" 

But words can not express such trouble as that. We have not realised 
it yet. Forgive me if my letter is abrupt and confused. I have only de- 



326 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

sired to tell you simply the simple tale — if by any chance it should ni.ik« 
you thank God more earnestly for the great gift He has given you— a hol> 
^ift indeed ; for can you think the lessons from " Susy," so useful and so 
loved on earth, could be suddenly forgotten when the glories of heaven 
opened on our darling's view ? I can not myself. I think, perhaps, our 
Father's home may be more like our human ones, where His love reigns, 
than our v/ild hearts allow themselves to imagine ; and I think the two, on 
whose behalf 1 thank you now, may one day know you and thank you 
themselves. 

Dear " Aunt Susan," believe me to be, your unknown yet grateful friend, 

Lizzie Wraith L . 

Mrs. Prentiss at once answered this letter, and not long 

after received another from Miss L , dated January 9, 1870, 

breathing the same grateful feeling and full of interesting de- 
tails. The following is an extract from it : 

I was so surprised, dear unknown friend, to receive your kind' letter so 
soon. Indeed, I hardly expected a reply at all. When I wrote to you, I 
did not know that I was addressing a daughter of the " Edward Payson " 
whose name is fragrant even on this side of the Atlantic. Had I known it 
I think I should not have ventured to write^-so I am glad I did not. II 
you should be able to wTite again, and have a carte-de-visite to spare, may 
I beg it, that I may form some idea of the friend, " old enough to be my 
mother " ? Are you little and slight, hke my real mother, I wonder, or 
stately and tall } I will send you a photograph of the monument which 
the ladies of papa's church and congregation have erected to dear mamma, 
in our beautiful cemetery, where the snowdrops will be already peeping, and 
where roses bloom for ten months out of the twelve. 

JVov. 3^/. — Here beginneth letter No. 3. We heard of your 
arrival at Southampton by a telegram last evening. We long 
to get a letter. Before I forget it let me tell you that Alice H. 
and Julia W. have both got babbies. We are getting nicely 
settled for the winter ; the children are all behaving beautifully. 

Saturday^ 6th. — Well, I have just been to see Mrs. F., and 
found her a bright, frank young thing, fresh and simple and 

very pleasing. Her complexion is like M 's, and the lower 

part of her face is shaped like hers, dark eyebrows, light hair, 
sj^lendid teeth, and I suppose would be called very pretty by 
you girls. Take her altogether I liked her very much. We 
hear next to nothing from Stepping Heavenward, and begin tc 
think it is going to fall dead. 



IN m-.K HOME. 



327 



MofidaVy 14///. — Your Southami>ton letter has just come and 
wc are delighted to hear that you had such a pleasaat voyage 

and found so many agreeable people on board Yesterday 

afternoon was devoted to hearing a deeply interesting descrip- 
tion from Dr. Hatfield, followed by Mr. Dodge, of the re-union 
of the two Assemblies at Pittsburgh. Dr. H. made us all laugli 
by saying that as the New School entered the church where 
they were to be received and united to the Old School, tiie 
latter rose and sang "Return, ye ransomed sinners, home!" 
Oh, I don't know but it was just the other way ; it makes no 
great difference, for as Dr. H. remarked, *' we're all ransomed 
sinners." 

Nov. 2,0th. — Mr. Abbot dined here on Sunday. He came in 
again in the evening, and it would have done you good to 
hear what he said about the children. They are all well and 
happy, and give me very little trouble. I do not feel so well 
on the late dinner, and have awful dreams. — I was passing 

the C s, after writing the above, and she called me in t(» 

see her new parlors. They are beautiful ; a great deal of 
bright, rich coloring, and various articles of furniture of his 
own designing. Thursday. — You and M. will be shocked to 
hear that Julia W. died last night. As Mr. W. was at church 
on Sunday, we supposed all danger was over. We heard it 
through a telegram sent to your father. 

December 4, 1869. — I need not tell you that we all remembci 
that this is your birthday, dear child, and that the remem- 
brance brings you very near. I wish I could send you, for a 
birthday present, all that I have, this morning, asked God to 
give you. You may depend upon it, that while some people 
may get along through life at a certain distance from Him, 
you are not one of that sort. You may lind a feverish joy, but 
never abiding peacc^ out of Him. Remember this whenever 
you feel the oppression of that vague sense of unrest, of which, 
I doubt not, you have a great deal underneath a careless out- 
side; this is the thirst of the soul for the only fountain at 
which it is worth while to drink. You never will be really 
happy till Christ becomes your dearest and most intimate 
friend. 7///. — We have had a tremendous fall of snow, and 
Culyer says M. ought to wait an hour before starting for 
school, but she is not willing and I am going with her to see 



328 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

that she is not buried alive. Good-bye again, dearie ! Will 
begin a new letter right away. 

Dec. ()th. — We went to see Mrs. W. this afternoon. Julia 
had typhoid fever, which ran twenty-one days, and was de- 
lirious a good deal of the time. She got ready to die before 
her confinement, though she said she expected to live. After 
she became so very ill Mrs. W. heard her praying for something 
" for Christ's sake," " for the sake of Christ's sufferings,'' and 
once asked her what it was she was asking for so earnestly. 
"Oh, to get well for Edward's sake and the baby's," she 
replied. A few days before her death she called Mrs. W. to 
"come close" to her, and said, " I am going to die. I did not 
think so when baby was born, dear little thing — but now it is 
impressed upon me that I am." Mrs. W. said they hoped not, 
but added, " Yet suppose you should die, what then ? " " Oh I 
have prayed, day and night, to be reconciled, and I 'a.vs\, perfectly 
so. God will take care of Edward and of my baby. Perhaps 

it is better so than to run the risk " She did not finish the 

sentence. The baby looks like her. Mrs. W. told her you had 
gone to Europe with M., and she expressed great pleasure : 
but if she had known where she was going, and to what, all she 
would have done would have been to give thanks " for Christ's 
sake." I do not blame her, how^ever, for clinging to life ; it 
was natural she should. 

\oth. — We went, last evening, to hear Father Hyacinthe 
lecture on " Charite " at the Academy of Music. I did not 
expect to understand a word, but was agreeably disappointed, 
as he spoke very distinctly. Still I did not enjoy hearing as 
well as I did reading it this morning — for I lost some of the 
best things in a really fine address. It was a brilliant scene, 
the very elite of intellectual society gathered around one 
modest, unpretentious little man. Dr. and Mrs. Crosby were 
in the box with us, and she, fortunately, had an opera glass 
with her, so that we had a chance to study his really good face. 
The only book I expect to write this winter is to you ; I am 
dreadfully lazy since you left, and don't do anything but haze 
about. There is a good deal of lively talk at the table; the 
children are waked up by going to school, and there is some 
rivalry among them, each maintaining that his and hers is the 
best. 



IX iii:r I If) Ml'. 



329 



Dec. 15///. — We have cards for a " Soiree musicale " at Mrs. 

's, wliich is to be a great smash-up. She called here to-day 

and wept and wailed over and kissed me. I have been to sec 
how ]Mrs. C. is. She is a little worse to-day, and he and lier 
father scarcely leave her. He wrung my hand all to pieces, 
poor man. Her illness is exciting great sympathy in our 
church, and nobody seems willing to let her go. Dr. Adams 
spent last evening here. He is splendid company; I really 
wish he would come once a week. Everybody is asking if I 
meant in Katy to describe myself. I have no doubt that if I 
should catch an old toad, put on to her a short gown and 
petticoat and one of my caps, everybody would walk up to her 
and say, " Oh, how do you do, Mrs. Prentiss, you look more 
like yourself than common ; I recognise the picture you have 
drawn of yourself in Stepping Heavenward and in the Percys," 
etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam. The next book I write I'll make my 
heroine black and everybody will say, "Oh, here you are again, 
black to the life ! " 

Dec. \Ztii. — You and M. will not be surprised to hear thai 
Mrs. C.'s sufferings are over. She died this morning. Papa 
and I are greatly shaken. With much hesitation I decided to 
go over there to see her mother, and the welcome I got from 
her and from Mr. C. are things to remember for a life-time. I 
will never hesitate again to fly to people in trouble. If you 
were here I would tell you all about my visit, but I can't write 
it down. It seems so sad, just as they had got into their lovely 
new home — sad for ///;;/, I mean ; as for her I can only wish her 
joy that she is not weeping here below as he is. I stayed till it 
was time for church, and when I entered it I was met by many 
a tearful face ; papa announced her death from the pulpit, and 
is going, this afternoon, to throw aside the sermon he inicndcvl 
to preach, and extemporise on "the first Sunday in heaven." 
The children are going in, this noon, to sing ; as to the Mission 
festival, th£it is to be virtually given up ; the children are mere- 
ly to walk in, receive their presents, and go silently out. It is 
a beautiful day to go to heaven in. Mrs. C. did not know she 
was going to die, but that is of no consequence. Only one 
week ago yesterday she was at the Industrial school, unusual- 
ly bright and well, thev all say. Well, I see everything double 
and had better stop writing. 



330 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

Monday^ 20th. — Your nice letter was in the letter-box as j 
started for school with H. ; I called to papa to let him know it 
was there and went off, begrudging him the pleasure of read- 
ing it before I did. When I got home there was*no papa and 
no letter to be found ; I looked in every room, on his desk and 
on mine, posted down to the letter-box and into the parlor, in 
vain. At last he came rushing home with it, having carried it 
to market, lest I should get and read it alone ! So we sat 

down and enjoyed it together I take out your picture 

now and then, when, lo, a big lump in my throat, notwithstand- 
ing which I am glad we let you go ; we enjoy your enjoyment, 
and think it will make the old nest pleasanter to have been va- 
cated for a while. Papa and I agreed before we got up this 
morning that the only fault we had to find with God was, that 
He was too good to us. I can't get over the welcome I got from 
Mr. C. yesterday. He said I seemed like a mother to him 
which made me feel very old on the one hand, and very happy 
on the other. If I were you I wouldn't marry anybody but a 
minister ; it gives one such lots of people to love and care for. 
Old Mrs. B. is failing, and lies there as peaceful and contented 
as a little baby. I never got sweeter smiles from anybody. I 
have got each of the servants a pretty dress for Christmas ; 1 
feel that I owe them a good deal for giving me such a peaceful^ 
untroubled home. 

Dec. 23^/. — It rained very hard all day yesterday till just 
about the time of the funeral, half-past three, when the church 
was well filled, the Mission-school occupying seats by them- 
selves and the teachers by themselves I thought as I 

listened to the address that it would reconcile me to seeing you 
lying there in your coffin, if such a record stood against your 
name. Papa read, at the close, a sort of prophetic poem of 
Mrs. C.'s, which she wrote a year or more ago, of which I should 
like to send you all a copy, it is so good in every sense. He 
wants me to send you a few hasty lines I scribbled off on Sun- 
day noon, with which he closed his sermon that afternoon, and 
repeated again at the funeral, but it is not worth the ink. After 
the service the mission children went up to look at the remains, 
and passed out ; then the rest of the congregation. One of the 
mission children fainted and fell, and was carried out in Mr. 
L,'s arms. After the rest dispersed papa took me in, and there 



IN HER HOME. 331 

we saw a most touching sight ; a dozen poor women and civil 
dren weeping about the cotlln, offering a tribute to her memory 

sweeter than the opulent display of flowers did. Evcniii::;. The 

interment took place to-day, at Woodlawn. Mr. C. wished me 
to go, and I did. On the way home a gentlemanl\- -looking man 
stepped up to your father, and taking his hand said, "I never 
saw you till to-da}^, but I loz'e you; yes, there is no other 
word ! " Wasn't it nice of him ? 

Dec. 24//). — Papa went in last evening, for a half hour, to see 

and his bride, at their great reception, drank two glasses 

of " coffee sangaree," and brought me news that overcame me 

quite,— namely, that was delighted with my book. Nesbit 

& Co. sent me a copy of their reprint of it. They have got it 
up beautifully with six colored illustrations, most of them very 
good ; little Ernest is as cunning as he can be, and the old 
grandpa is perfect. Katy, however, has her hair in a waterfall 
in the year 1835 and even after, wears long dresses, and alwavs 
has on a. son tag or something like one. She goes to see -Dr. 
Cabot in a red sacque, and a red hat, and has a muff in her lap. 

Mrs. was here the other day to say that I had drawn her 

husband's portrait exactly in Dr. Elliot. I have been out with 
M. all the morning, doing up our last shopj)in<^^ We Ccune 
home half frozen, and had lunch together, when k), a magnili- 
cent basket of flowers from Mrs. D. and some candy from the 
party ; papa and G. came home and we all fell to making oui 

selves sick I have bought lots of candy and little fancy 

cakes to put in the children's stockings. I know it is verv 
improper, but one can't be good always. Dr. P. is sick willi 
pneumonia. Mrs. P. has just sent me a basket of fresh eggs, and 
an illustrated edition of Longfellow's "Building of the Shij)." 

25///. — I wish you a Merry Christmas, darling, and wonder 
what you are all doing to celebrate this day. We have had 
great times over our presents I got a note from Mr. Ab- 
bot saying that a friend of his in Boston had given away fom-- 
decn Katies, all he could get, and that the bookseller said he 
could have sold the last copy thirty times over. Neitlier pnjia 
nor I feel quite up to the mark to-day ; we probably got a lit- 
tle cold at Mrs. C.'s grave, as the wind blew furiously, and the 
hymn, and prayer, and benediction took quite a time. 

26///. — Dr. P. is worse. Papa has been to see him since 



332 THE LIFE OF MRS. I'Rh.NTISS. 

church, and Dr. B., who was there, said that Dr. Murray quoteo 
from Katy in his sermon to-day, and then pausing long enougli 
to attract everybody's attention, he said he wished each ol 
them to procure and read it. I hope you and Mrs. Smith won't 
get sick hearing about it ; I assure you I don't tell you half I 
-night. Evening. — Mr. C. has been here this evening to show 
us a pjem by his wife, just come out in the January number of 
the Sabbath at Home, in which she asks the New Year what it 
has in store for her, and says if it is death, it is only going home 
the sooner. Neither he, or anyone, had seen it or heard of it, 
and it came to them with overwhelming power and consolation 
as the last utterance of her Christian faith.' 

Dec. 30//^, 1869. — Your letter came yesterday morning, after 
breakfast, and was read to an admiring audience of Prentisses 
by papa, who occasionally called for counsel as to this word 
and that. We like the plan made for the winter, and hope it 
will suit all round. You had such a grand birth-day that I 
don't see what there was left for Christmas, and hope you got 
nothing but a leather button. My Percys end to-day, and I am 
shocked at the wretched way in which I ended them. I wish 
you would buy a copy of Griseldis for me. Why don't you 
tell what you are reading? I got for M. "A Sister's Bye 
Hours," by Jean Ingelow, and find it a delightful book ; such 
lots of quiet humor and so much good sense and good feeling 
you girls would enjoy reading it aloud together. 

Jan. 3^/, 1870. — You will want to hear all about New Year's 
day, and where shall I begin unless rt the end thereof, when 
your and Mi\3. Smith's letters came, and which caused papa 
ungraciously to leave me to entertain, while he greedily de- 
voured them and his dinner. In spite of rain we had a steady 
Mow of visitors. I will enclose a list for your delectation, for 
as reading a cook-book sort of feeds one, reading familiar names 
sort of comforts one. Mr. was softer and more languish- 
ing than ever, and appeared like a man who had been fed on 

honey off the tips of a canary bird's feather Papa and 

I agreed, talking it over last evening, that it is a bad plan for 
husbands and wives not to live and die together, as the one 
who is left is apt to cut up. He hinted that I was "so fond oi 

' See the poem in the appendix to Golden Hours., with the " Reply of tl"i New Year,' 
written by Mrs. Premiss. 



IN HL:K llOMK. o^. 

admiration" that lie was afraid I should, if he died. On ques- 
tioning him as to what he meant by this abominable speech, he 
said he meant to pay me a compliment ! ! ! that he thought mc 
very susceptible when people loved me and very fond of being 
loved — which I am by him ; all other men I hate. My cousin 
G. dined with us on Friday and took me to the meeting held 
annually at Dr. Adams' church. I like him ever so much, 
though he is a man. G. has brought me in some dandcliouL 
from the church-yard. We have not had one day of seveie 
cold yet, and there is a great deal of sickness about in con- 
sequence. 

Friday. — I spent a part of last evening in writing an 
article about Mrs. C.'s poem for the Sabbath at Home, and 
have a little fit of indigestion as my reward. Have been to 
see my sick woman with jelly and consolation, and from 
there to Mrs. D., who gave me a beautiful account of Mrs. 
Coming's last days and of her readiness and gladness to go. I 
was at the meeting at Dr. Rogers' yesterday afternoon and 
heard old Dr. Tyng for the first time, and he spoke beautifully. 
.... Well, Chi Alpha' is over ; we had a very large attendance 
and the oysters were burnt. It is dreadfully trying when Maria 
never once failed before to have them so extra nice. Dr. Ilall 
came and told me he had been sending copies of Fred and 
Maria and Mc to friends in Ireland. Martha and Jane, and M. 
and H. were all standing in a row together when the parsons 
come out to tea, and one of them marched up to the row, say- 
ing to papa. Are these your children .> when Martha and Jane 
made a precipitate retreat into the pantry. Good-night, dar- 
ling ; lots of love to Mrs. Smith and all of them. Vour affec- 
tionate "Marm-er." 

nth. — Yours came to-day, and papa and I had a brief duel 
with hair-pins and pen-knives as to which should read it aloud 
to the other, and I beat. I should have enjoyed I'-igenslnn, 1 

am sure ; you know I have read it in German The chii 

drcn all three are lovely, and what with them and papa and 
other things my cup is running over tremendously. I have 
just heard that a poor woman I have been to sec a few times 
died this morning. I always came away from her crestfallen 
thinking I was the biggest poke in a sick-room there ever waj 

* A clerical circle of New York. 



334 THE lAVE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

but she sent me a dying message that quite comforted me 
She had once lived in plenty, but was fearfully destitute, and 1 
<^ear she and her family suffered for want of common neces- 
saries. 

TJmrsday. — I had an early and a long call from one of ouj 
church, who wanted to tell me, among other things, that her 
husband scolded her for bumping her head in the night ; she 
wept and I condoled ; she went away at last smiling. Then 1 
went to the sewing circle and idled about till one ; then I had 
several calls. Then papa and I went out to make a lot of calls. 
Then came a note from a sick lady, whom I shall go to see in 
spite of my horror of strangers. Papa got a letter from Prof. 
Smith which gave us great pleasure. Z. was here yesterday ; I 
asked her to stay to lunch, bribing her with a cup of tea, and 
so she stayed and we had a real nice time ; when she went 
away I told her I was dead in love with her. 

Friday Evening. — The children have all gone to bed ; M. and 
G. have been reading all the evening ; M. busy on Miss Alcott's 
"Little Women," and G. shaking his sides over old numbers of 
the Riverside. Papa says our house ought to have a sign put 
out, "Souls cured here"; because so many people come to tell 
their troubles. People used to do just so to my mother, and 1 
suppose always do to parsons' wives if they'll let 'em. 

Monday. — Papa preached delightfully yesterday. Mr. B. 
took a pew and Mr. I don't know who took another. Your 
letter came this morning and was full of interesting things. 1 
hope Mrs. S. will send me her own and Jean Ingelow's verses. 
What fun to get into a correspondence with her ! I have had 
an interesting time to-day. Dr. Skinner lent me some months 
ago a little book called "God's Furnace"; I didn't like it at 
first, but read it through several times and liked it better and 

better each time. And to-day Mrs. brought the author to 

spend a few hours (she lives out of town), and we three black- 
eyed women had a remarkable time together. There is cer- 
tainly such a thing as a heaven below, only it doesn't last as the 
real heaven will. We had Mr. C. to tea last night ; after tea he 
read us three poems of his wife, and papa was weak enough to 
go and read him some verses of mine, which he ought not to 
have done till I am dead and gone. Then he played and sang 
with the children, and we had prayers and I read scraps to 



IN HER HOME. 335 

him and papa from Faber's "All for Jesus and Craig's Me 
moir. M. is lying on the sofa studying, papa is in his study 
the boys are hazing about; it snows a little and melts as it 
falls, and so, with love to all, both great and small, I am your 
loving "Elderly lady with grey puffs.' 

February Wi^ 1S70. — We are having a tremendous snow-stcrm 
for a wonder. I started out this morning with G., and when 
we got to the Fifth avenue clock he found he should be late 
unless he ran, and I was glad to let him go and turn back to 
meet M., who had heavy books besides her umbrella. The 
wind blew furiously, my umbrella broke and flew off in a 
tangent, and when I got it, it turned wrong side out and I 
came near ascending as in a balloon ; M. soon came in sight 

and I convoyed her safely to school. Mrs. told a friend of 

ours that Mr. and Mrs. Prentiss really enjoyed Mrs. C 's 

death, and they seemed destitute of natural affection; and that 
as for Mrs. P. it was plain she had never suffered in any way 
Considering the tears we both shed over Mrs. C, and some 

other little items in our past history, we must set Mrs. 

down as wiser than the ancients. 

Sunday ^zwz/z/i^.— Yesterday Lizzy B. came to say that her 
mother was "in a gully" and wanted me to come and pull her 
out. I went and found her greatly depressed, and felt sure it 
was all physical, and not a case for special spiritual pulling. 
So I coaxed her, laughed at her, and cheered her aH I could. 
She said she had been "a solemn pig" for a week, in allusion 
to some pictures Dr. P. had drawn for her and for me illustrat- 
ing the solemn pig and the jolly pig. Mr. Randolph has sent 
up a letter from a man in Nice whose wife wants to translate 
Katy into French. I sent word they might translate it into 
Hottentot for all me. Good-night, my dear, I am sound asleep. 
Your affectionate Mother PKENTif..s. 

Tuesday. — On Sunday papa preached a sern'on in behalf of 
the Mission, asking for $35,000 to build a chapel, for which Mr 
Cady had made a plan. I got greatly stirred up, as I hope cv- 
erybody did. Mr. Dodge will give one-cjuarler of the sum 
needed. It is Washington's birthday, and tin; children arc all 
at home from school, and are at the dining-room table drawing 



336 THE l.TFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

maps. Mr. and Mrs. G. called, but I was out seeing a pooi 
woman, whose romance of love and sorrow I should like to tell 
you about if it would not fill a book. She says Bishop S. has 
supported her and her three children for seven months out cf 
his own pocket. 

Saturday^ Feb. 26th. — Your two last letters, together with 
Mrs. Smith's, were all in the box as I was starting with M. for 
her music. My children pulled in opposite directions, but I 
pushed on, and papa saved the letters to read to me when I got 
back. He reads them awfully, and will puzzle over a word 
long enough for me to have leisure to go crazy and recover my 
sanit3^ However, nobody shall make fun of him save myself ; 
so look out. The boys have gone skating to-day for the third 
time this winter, there has been so little cold weather. 

Sunday Evening. — I did not mean to plague you with Step- 
ping Heavenward any more, but we have had a scene to-day 
which will amuse you and Mrs. Smith. Just before service be- 
gan, an aristocratic-looking lady seated in front of Mrs. B. be- 
gan to talk to her, whereupon Mrs. B. turned round and an- 
nounced to the congregation that I was the subject of it by 
pointing me out, and then getting up and bringing 
her to our pew. Once there, she seized me by the hand 

and said, " I am Mrs. . I have just read your book and 

been carried away with it. I knew your husband thirty-three 
years ago, and have come here to see you both," etc., etc. Find- 
ing she could get nothing out of me, she fell upon M., and 
asked her if I was her sister, which M. declared I was not. 
After church I invited her to step into the parsonage, and she 
stepped in for an hour and told this story : She had had the 
book lent her, and yesterday, lunching at Mrs. A.'s, asked her 
if she had read it, and finding she had not, made her promise to 
get it. She then asked who this E. Prentiss was, and a lady 
present enlightened her. "What! my sister's beloved Miss 
Payson, and married to George Prentiss, my old friend ! ! I'll 
go there to church to-morrow and see for myself." So it turns 

out that she was a Miss , of Mississippi ; that your fath-r 

gallanted her to Louisville, when she was going there to ))e 

married at sixteen years of age ; that she was living in Ricfi- 

mond at the time I was teaching there, her sister boarding 

n the house with me. Such talking, such life and enthusiasa) 



TX TIER HOME. 337 

you never saw in a woman of forty-eight ! Well," she winds 
up at last, " I've found two treasures, and you needn't think I'm 

going to let you go. I'll go home and tell Mr. all about 

it." Papa and I have called each other ''two treasures" ever 
since she went away. The whole scene worked him up and did 
him good, for he always loves to have his Southern fi lends 
d.'um him up and talk to him of your Uncle Seargent and 
Aunt Anna. Mr. is one of our millionaires, and she mar- 
ried him a year ago after thirteen years of widowhood. She 
says she still has 200 '"negroes," who won't go away and won't 
work, and she has them to support. She talked very rationally 
about the war, and says not a soul at the South would have 

slavery back if they could I called at Mrs. B.'s yesterday — 

at exactly the right moment, she said ; for five surgeons had just 
decided that the operation had been a failure, and that she 
must die. Her husband looked as white as this paper, and the 
girls were in great distress, but Mrs. B. looked perfectly 
radiant. 

Saturday, March ^t/i. — Yesterday I went to make a ghostly 
call on Mrs. B., and kept her and the girls screaming with 
laughter for an hour, which did me lots of good, and I hope 
did not hurt them. I have written the 403d page of my serial 
to-day, and hope it is the last. It will soon be time to think of 
the spring shopping. I don't know what any of us need, and 
never notice what people are wearing unless I notice by going 
forth on a tour of observation. 

Sunday Evening. — After church this afternoon Mr^. N. and 
Mrs. V. came in to tell us about the death of that servant cf 
theirs, whom they nursed in their own house, who has been 
dying for seven months, of cancer. She died a most fearless, 
happy death, and I wish I knew I should be as patient in my 
last illness as they represent her as being. Your letters to tiie 
cliildren came yesterday afternoon to their great delight. In 
an evil moment I told the boys that I had seen it stated, in some 
paper, that benzole v.'ould make paper transparent, and aftei- 
wards evaporate and leave the paper uninjured. They drov^ 
me raving distracted with questions abcftt it, so that I had to 
be put in a strait-jacket. The ingenuity and persistence of 
these questions, asked by each, in separate inter\-iews, was 'oe- 
yond description. 
22 



338 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

Tuesday. — For once I have been caught napping, and have 
not mailed my weekly letter. But you will be expecting some 
irregularity about the time of your flight to Berlin. I called at 
Mrs. M.'s to-day, and ran on at such a rate that Mrs. Woolsey 
who was there, gave me ten dollars for poor folks, and said she 
wished I'd stay all day. Afterwards I went down town to get 
Stepping Heavenward for Mr. C, and as he wanted me to write 
something in it, have just written this : " Mr. C. from Mrs. 
Prentiss, in loving memory of one who ' did outrun ' us, and 
stepped into heaven first." Mr. Bates showed me a half-column 
notice of it in the Liberal Christian,' of all places ! by very 
far the warmest and best of all that have appeared. Papa is at 
Dr. McClintock's funeral. I declare, if it isn't snowing again, 
and the sun is shining ! Now comes a letter from Uncle 
Charles, saying that your Uncle H. has lost that splendid little 
girl of his ; the only girl he ever had, and the child of his heart 
of hearts. Mrs. W. says she never saw papa and myself look 
so well, but some gentleman told Mr. Brace, who told his wife, 
who told me, that 1 was killing myself with long walks. I can 

not answer your questions about Mr. 's call. So much is 

all the time going on that one event speedily effaces the im- 
pression of another. 

March 12th. — Julia Willis spent the evening here not long 
ago, and made me laugh well. She took me on Friday to see 
Fanny Fern, who hugged and kissed me, and whom it was 
rather pleasant to see after nearly, if not quite, thirty years' 
separation. She says nobody but a Fayson could have written 
Stepping Heavenward, which is absurd. March 17///. — I went to 
the sewing circle' and helped tuck a quilt, had a talk with Mrs. 
W., got home at a quarter of one and ate two apples, and have 
been since then reading the secret correspondence of Madame 
Guyon and Fenelon in old French. 

Saturday, ic)th. — Have just seen M. to the Conservatory ; met 
Dr. Skinner on the way home, who said he had been reading 
Stepping Heavenward, and he hoped he should step all the 
faster for it. Z. has often invited us to come to see her new 

1 A Unitarian paper, published in New York. 

5 An association of ladies for providing garments and other needed articles in aid of 
families of Home and Foreign missionaries, especially of those connected in any wa) 
with their own congregation. Such a circle is found in most of the American churches. 



IX iii:r home. 



339 



home, and as the i6th comes on a Saturday, we are talkinir g 
little of all going up to lunch with her. Evening:;. — It has been 

s ich a nice warm day. I had a pleasant call from Mrs. Dr. . 

She asked me if I did not get the theology of Stei)ping Heaven- 
ward out of my father's "Thoughts," but as I have not read 
them for thirty years, I doubt if I did, and as I am older than 
n'y father was when he uttered those thoughts, I have a right 
to a theology of my own. 

Monday. — Yesterday, in the afternoon, we had the Sunday- 
school anniversary, which went off very well. Mr. C. came to 
tea ; after it and prayers, we sat round the table and I read 
scraps from Madame Guyon and Fcnelon, and we talked them 
over. Papa was greatly pleased at the latter's saying he often 
stopped in the midst of his devotions to play. 

Ouand je suis seul, je joue quelquefois comme un petit enfant, mrme en 
faisant oraison. II m' arrive quekiuefois de sauteret de rire toi4 seul conime 
un fou dans ma chainhre. Avant-hier, etant dans la sacristie et ri'|)on<ianl 
a una personne qui me queslionnait, jioui ne la point scandaliser sur la 
question, je m' embarrassai, et je tis une espOce de mensongc ; cela inc 
donna quelque repug^nance a dire la Messe, niais je ne laissai pas de la dire 

I do not advise you to stop to play in the midst of yt)ur 
prayers, or to tell "une espece de mensonge ! " till yuu are as 
much of a saint as he was.^ 

Saturday, 2Gt/i. — Your letter and Mrs. Smith's came together 
this afternoon. It is pleasant to hear from papa's old friends 
at Halle, and he will be delighted, when he comes home from 
Chi Alpha, where he is now. Lizzy B. called this afternoon ; 
she wanted to open out her poor sick heart to me. She qu«jled 
to me several things she says I wrote her a few weeks ago, but 
I have not the faintest recollection of writing them. Tiiai 
shows what a harum-scarum life I lead. 

March 315-/'.— We spent Tuesday evening at the Skinners. 
We had a charming visit; no one there but Mrs. Sampson 
and her sister, and Dr. S. wide awake and full of enthusiasm. 

We did not get to bed till midnight. Mrs. came this 

morning and begged me to lend her some money, as she had 
got behindhand. I let her have five dollars, tnough I do not 

1 The passage occurs in a letter to Madame Guyon, dated June 9, 16S9. l-"or anolhef 
extract from the same letter see appendix F, p. 537. 



340 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

feel sure that I shall see it again, and she wept a little weep 
and went away. A lady told cousin C. she had heard I was sc 
shy that once having promised to go to a lunch party, my 
courage failed at the last moment, so that I could not go. I 
shall expect to learn next that my hair is red. 

Monday^ April 4th. — Your presents came Saturday while I 
was out. We are all delighted with them, but I was most so, 
for two such darling little vases were surely never before seen. 
M. had Maggie to spend Saturday afternoon and take tea. She 
asked me if I did not make a distinction between talent and 
genius, which papa thought very smart of her. I read aloud to 
them all the evening one of the German stories b)^ Julius Horn. 
Mr. and Mrs. C. came in after church and I asked them to stay 
to tea, which they did. After it was over, and we had had 
prayers, we had a little sing, Mrs. C. playing, and among other 
things, sang a little hymn of mine which I wrote I know not 
when, but which papa liked well enough to have printed. If 
copies come to-day, as promised, I will enclose one or two. 
After the singing papa and I took turns, as we could snatch a 
chance from each other, in reading to them from favorite books, 
which they enjoyed very much. 

April <)fli. — We called on Mrs. H. M. Field yesterday, and I 
never saw (or rather heard) her so brilliant. In the evening I 
ead aloud to the children a real live, wide-awake Sunday- 
school book, called " Old Stories in a New Dress "; Bible 
stories, headed thus: "The Handsome Rebel," "The Young 
Volunteer," "The Ingenious Mechanics." 

April i611l — I can not go to bed, my dear chicken, till I have 
told you what a charming day we have had. To go back to 3^es- 
terday, my headache entirely disappeared by the time the Skin- 
ners g('t here, and we had a pleasant cosy evening with them, 
and at the end made Dr. Skinner pray over us Every- 
thing went off nicely. The children enjoyed the trip tremend- 
ously, and hated to come away. We picked a lot of "filles 
avant la mere" and they came home in good condition. Mr. 
Woolsey and Z. gave me a little silver figure holding a cup, 
on blue velvet, which is ever so pretty. We got home at half • 
past six. Later in the evening President Hopkins called to 
offer his congratulations. And now I am tired, I can tell you. 
It is outrageous for you and the Smiths to be away ; I don't 



IN TIER HOME. 341 

see how you can have the heart. You ought to come by dis- 
patch as telegrams. 

17//^, — Dr. Hopkins preached a splendid sermon' for us this 
morning, and came in after it for a call. He asked me last 
night if I felt conceited about my book ; so I said to him, " I 
like to give people as good as they send — don't you feel a little 
conceited after that sermon ? " on which he gave me a good 
shaking. 

iS//^. — I have been writing notes of thanksgiving, each of 
which dear papa reads through rose-colored spectacles and 
says, " You do beat all ! " I have enjoyed writing them, instead 
of finding it a bore. We shall be curious to hear how you cele- 
brated our wedding-day. Well, good-bye, old child. I shall 
begin another letter to-day, as like as not. 

Monday, April 2^th. — Friday morning, in the midst of my 
plans for helping Aunt E. shop, came a message from Mrs. B. 
that she wanted to see me. I had not expected to see her 
again, and of course was glad to go. She had altered so that 
I should not have knowm her, and it was hard to hear what she 
had to say, she is so feeble. She went back to the first time 
she saw me, told me what I had on, and how her heart was 
knitted to me. She then spoke of her approaching death : 
said she had no ecstasies, no revelations, but had been in per- 
j.ect peace, suffering agonies of pain, yet not one pain too 
x-nany. I asked her if she had any parting counsel to give me. 
' No, not a word ; I only wanted to see your sunny face once 
more, and tell 3^ou what a comfort you have been to me in this 
jickness." This all came at intervals, she was so weak. She 
afterward said, "I feel as if I never was acquainted with Christ 
till now. I tell my sons to become intimately ACQUMMi-n 
with Him." I asked her if she took pleasure in thinking of 
meeting friends in heaven. With a sweet, somewhat comical 
smile, she said, " No, I haven't got so far as that. I think only 
of meeting Christ." "For all that," I said, "you will soon see 
my father and mother and other kindred souls." Her face 
lighted up again. " Why, so I shall ! " Her lips were growing 
uiiite wnth pain while this bright smile w^is on them, and I 
came away, though I should gladly have listened to her by the 
hour, everything was so natural, sound, and heavenly. Shop. 

» On the Resurrcctiun of Christ. 



542 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

ping after it did not prove particularly congenial ; but we mus 
shop, as well as die. 

April 2()th. — Your first Dresden letter has just come ; yes, it 
was long enough, though you did not tell us how the cat did. 
You speak as if you were going to Paris, but papa is positive 
you are not. Yesterday was a lovely day, though very hot. Dr. 
Adams came and drove papa to the Park. Late in the after- 
noon I went to see Mrs. G., the woman whose husband is in 
jail. She is usually all in a muss, but this time was as nice as 
could be, the floor clean and everything in order. The baby, a 
year old, had learned to walk since I was last there, and came 
and planted herself in front of me, and stared at me out of two 
great bright eyes most of the time. I had a nice visit, as Mrs. 
G. seems to be making a good use of her troubles. After I got 
liom.e. Dr. and Mrs. C. arrived and we ha.d dinner and a tre- 
mendous thunder shower, after which he went out to make 
forty-Teven calls. He was pleased to say that he wanted his 
wife to see the lovely family picture we make ! It is a glum, 
cold, lowering morning, but the C.'s are going to see the 
Frenches at West Point, and Miss Lyman at Vassar. 

Monday. — I went to Miss C.'s (the dressmaker) again to-day, 
and found her much out of health, and about reducing her 
business and moving. One of the old sisters had been reading 
Stepping Heavenward, and almost ate me up. I got a pleasant 
word about it last night, from Mrs. General Upton, who has 
just died at Nassau. I have seen Mrs. B. to-day ; she did not 
open her eyes, but besought me to pray for her release. She 
can't last long. The boys are off rolling hoop again, and M. 
Is out walking with Ida. Papa informed me last night that 
I had got a very pretty bonnet. The bonnets now consist of a 
little fuss and a good many flowers. Papa has gone to Dorset, 
and has had a splendid day for his journey. 

Thursday, May 12 fh. — Yesterday Miss came to tell me 

about the killing of her brother on the railroad, and to cry her 
very heart out on my shoulder. In the midst of it came a note 
from Lizzy B., saying her mother had just dropped away. I 
called there early this morning. We then went to the Park 
with your uncle and aunt ; after which they left and I rushed 

out to get cap and collar to wear at Mrs. 's dinner. I got 

back in time to go to the funeral at four p.m. Dr. Murray 



TN HER HOME. 343 

made an excellent, appreciative address ; papa tlien read ex- 
tracts from a paper of mine (things she had said), the prayer 
followed, and then her sons sang a hymn.' I came home tired 
and laid me down to rest ; at half-past six it popped into my 
head that I w^as not dressed, and I did it speedily. We supposed 

we were only to meet the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. , of Brooklyn, 

but, lo ! a lot of people in full dress. We had a regular state 
dinner, course after course. Dr. sat next me and made him- 
self very agreeable, except when he said I was the most subtle 
satirist he ever met (I did run him a little). j\Irs. is a pict- 
ure. She had a way of looking at me through her eyeglass till 
she put me out of countenance, and then smiling in a sweet, 
satisfied manner, and laying down her glass. We came home 
as soon as the gentlemen left the table, and got here just as the 
clock was striking twelve. 

Friday. — We began this day by going at ten a.m. to the 
funeral of Mrs. W.'s poor little baby, and the first words papa 
read, "It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the 
house of feasting," etc., explained his and my state of mind 
after last night's dissipation. He made a very touching address. 
Later in the day we went out to see Miss , as we had prom- 
ised to do. We went through the Park, lingered there a while, 
and then went on and made a long call. When we rose to 
come away, she said she never let people go away without 
lunch and made us go down to the following: buns, three kinds 
of cake, pies, doughnuts, cheese, lemonade, apples, oranges, 
pine-apples, a soup tureen of strawberries, a quart of cream, 
two custard puddings, one hot and one cold, home-made wine, 
cold corned beef, cold roast beef, and for aught I know 40 
other things. We came away awfully tired, and papa com- 
plained of want of appetite at dinner ! ! Good-bye, dearie. I 
forgot to tell you the boys have got a dog. lie came of his 

1 Helen Rogers Blakeman, wife of W. N. Blakeman, M.D., was born on the 20th of 
Da ;ember, iSii, in the city of New York. She was a e:rancklaup:hter of the Rev. James 
Ca'iwell, of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, tlie Revolutionary patriot. The trai^cal fate 
of her g-randmother has passed into history. When the Britisli forces reached Connect- 
icut Farms, on the 7th of June, 17S0, and beG:an to burn and ptlla-e the place, l^Irs. 
Caldwell, who was then living there, retired with her two chiMren— one an infant in her 
arms— to a back room in the house. Here, while engaged in prayer, she was shot through 
the window. Two bullets struck her in the breast and she fell dead upon the door. The 
infant in her arms was Mrs. Rial; -man's mother. On the father's side, l.xj, she was ol 
an old and God-ff^aring family. 



3H T'HE TJFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

Dwn accord and has made them ver}^ happy. We haven't let 
papa see him, you may depend. 

IVed., Afay iSl/i. — Papa is packing his trunk for Philadelphia 
and I am sitting at my new library table to write on my letter 
[ went yesterday to see that lady who has fits. She had one in 
the morning that lasted over an hour and a half. She is a very 
bright, animated creature and does not look older than you. 
Thursday. — Papa got off yesterday at eleven for the General As- 
sembly and I went to Mrs. D.'s and stayed four hours. She 
sent for Mr. S.'s baby, who does not creep, but walks in the quaint- 
est little way. I shall write a note to Mr. S., who feels anxious 
at its not creeping, fearing its limbs will not be strong, to tell 
him that I hitched along exactly so. 

Now let me give you the history of this busy day. We got 
up early and Miss F. called with M.'s two dresses. After 
prayers and breakfast I wrote to papa, went to school with 
H., and marketed. Came home and found a letter from Cin- 
cinnati, urging for two hymns right away for a new hymn-book 
They had several of mine already. I said, " Go to, let us make 
a h3^mn " (Prof. Smith in his Review) and made and sent them. 

Then I wrote to Mr. S. and to Mrs. Charles W .' Then Mrs. 

C. came and stayed till nearly four, when she left and I went 
down to Twenty-second street to call on a lady at the Water 
Cure. Then I went to see Mrs. C. (the wife of the Rev. Mr. 
C). I think I told you she had lost her little Florence. I 
do not remember ever seeing a person so broken down by grief ; 
she seemed absolutely heart-broken. I could not get away till 
five, and then I took two stages and got home as soon as I could, 
knowing the children would be famishing. So now count up 
my various professions, chaplain, marketer, hymnist, consoler 
of Mr. S., Mrs. W., Mrs. C, and let me add, of Dr. B., who came 
and made a long call. I am now going to lie down and 
read till I get rested, for my brain has been on the steady 

' "Your precious lamb was very near my heart; few knew so well as I did all j ou 
suffered for and with her, for few have been over just the ground I have. But that is 
little to the purpose; what I was going to say is this, — 'God never makes a mistake,' 
Vou know and feel it, I am sure, but when we are broken down with gncf, we like to 
hear sin\ple words, oft repeated. On this anniversary of my child's death, I feel drawn 
to you. It was a great blow to us because it came to hearts already sore with sorrow for 
our boy, and because it came so like a thunderclap, and because she suffered so. Youi 
baby's death brouglr it all back." — Froyn t/ie Letter to Mrs. W. 



IN HER HOME. 34: 

Stretch for thirteen hours, one thing stepping on the heels ol 
another.' 

May 23^/ — If your eyes were bright enough you might have 

seen me and my cousin George P tearing down Broadway 

this afternoon, as if mad dogs were after us. He wanted me 
to have a fountain pen, and the only way to accomplish it was 
to take me down to the place where they are sold, below the 
Astor House. I wanted to walk, and so did he, but he had got 
to be on a boat for Norwich at five p.m. and pack up between 
while ; however, he concluded to risk it, hence the way we 
raced was a caution. I have just written him a long letter in 
rhyme with my new pen, and now begin one in prose to you. 
I have just got a letter from an anonymous admirer of Stepping 
Heavenward, enclosing ten dollars to give away ; I wish it was 
a thousand ! The children are in tribulation about ihcir 
kitten, who committed suicide by knocking the ironing-board 
on to herself. H. made a diagram of the position of xXui board 
that I might fully comprehend the situation, and then showed 
me how the corpse lay. They were not willing to part with the 
remains, and buried them in the yard. 

Saturday. — I went to Yonkers with M. and H. to spend the 
day with Mrs. B. Her children are sweet and interesting as 
ever ; but little Maggie, now three years old, is the " queen of 
the house." She is a perfect specimen of what a child should 
be — gladsome, well, bright, and engaging. Her cheeks are 
rosy and shining, and she keeps up an incessant cliattcr. They 
are all wild about her, from papa and mamma down to tlie 
youngest child. 

' '* I must tell you what a busy day I had yesterday, being: chaplain, marketer, 

mother, author, and consoler from early morning till nine at ni.c^ht A letter came 

from Cincinnati from the editor of the hymn-book of the Y. M. C. A., sayin;^ he had 
some of my hymns in it, and had stopped the press in order to have two more, whicJ» he 
wonted ' rif:ht away.' I was exactly iu the mood ; it was our little Bessie's annivors.iry, 
she had been in lieaven eighteen years ; think what slie has already ^jaincd by my one y«*l 
of sufTering; ! and I wanted to spend it for others, not for myself." — Ixticr /* kt* 
Iluslan y, May 20. 



346 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 



II. 

Home-Life in Dorset. 

Dorset, June lo, 1870. 

Here we are again in dear old Dorset. We got here abou 
ten on Wednesday evening, expecting to find the house dark 
and forlorn, but Mrs. F. had been down and lighted it up, and 
put on the dining-table bread, biscuits, butter, cakes, eggs, etc., 
enough to last for days. Thursday was hotter than any day 
we had had in New York, and not very good, therefore, for the 
hard work of unpacking, and the yet harder work of sowing 
our flower-seeds in a huge bed shaped like a palm-leaf. But, 
with- M.'s help, it was done before one o'clock to-day — a her- 
culean task, as the ground had to be thoroughly dug up with a 
trowel ; stones, sticks, and roots got out, and the earth sifted 
in our hands. The back of my neck and my ears are nearly 
blistered. M. is standing behind me now anointing me with 
cocoa butter. Our place looks beautifully. Some of the trees 
set. out are twelve or fifteen feet high, and when fully leaved 
will make quite a show. Papa is to be here about ten days, as 
he greatly needs the rest ; he will then go home till July ist, 
when he will bring Jane and Martha. I told Martha I thought 
it very good of Maria to be willing to come with me, and she 
said she did not think it needed much goodness, and that any- 
body would go with me ^/^'where. The boys have a little 
black and tan dog which Culyer gave them, and M.'s bird is a 
fine singer. Our family circle now consists of 

Prentiss, 





Pa I 




Ma 




Min. 




Geo. 




Hen. 




Maria 


(horse) 


Coco 


(cow) 


Sukey 


(dog) 


Nep 


(bird) 


Cherry 



IN UKR HOME. 



;47 



We never saw Dorset so early, and when the foliage was in 
such perfection. 

Last Tuesday I reached our door perfectly and disgracefully 
loaded wi'th parcels, and said to myself, "I wonder what Mr. 
M. would say if he saw me with this load?" when instantly he 
opened the door to let me in ! Account for this if you can. 
Why should I have thought of him among al\. the pcr)i)lc I 
know ? Did his mind touch mine through the closed door ? It 
makes me almost shudder to think such things can be. Wrll, 
I must love and leave you. I am going to have a small basket 
on the table in the hall with ferns, mosses, and shells in it. 
They all send love from Pa Prentiss down to Sukey. What a 
pity you could not come home for the summer and go back 
again ! I believe I'll go to your bedroom door and say, " I 
wonder whether Annie would shriek out if she saw me in this 
old sacque, instead of her pretty one?" and perhaps you'll 
open and let me in. Will you or won't you? Now I'm going 
to ride. 

I've been and I've got back, and I'm frozen solid, and am 
glad I've got back to my den. G. and II. are now in the kitchen 
making biscuits. Good-bye, chicken. Mamma Pkkntiss. 

/u;ie 12///. — Everybody is in bed save Darby and Joan. We 
slept last night under four blankets and a silk comforter, which 
will give you a faint idea of the weather. It has been beautiful 
to-day, and we have sat out of doors a good deal. Papa and 
the boys went out to our hill after tea last evening and picked 
two quarts of strawberries, so as to have a short-cake to-day. 
M. took me yesterday to see a nest in the orchard which was 
full of birds parted into fours— not a crack between, and one of 
them so crowded that it filled about no space at all. The hymn 
says, "Birds in their little nests agree," and I should think they 
would, for they have no room to disagree in. They all foui 
stared at us with awful, almost embarrassing solemnity, and 
each had a little yellow moustache. I had no idea they lived 
l)acked in so— no wonder they looked melancholy. The sight 
of them, especially of the one who hatl no room at all, made mo 
quite low-spirited. 

1 1 W/it'Sc/ay. —Yom- letter reached us on Monday, and we all 

A'ent out and sat in a row on the upper step, like birds on a 

ilegraph wire, and papa read it aloud. I am lying by to-day 



348 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

— writing, reading, lounging, and enjoying the scenery. You 
ought to see papa eat strawberries ! ! ! They are very plentiful 
on our hill. The grass on the lawn is pricking up like needles ; 
easy to see if 3^ou kneel down and stare hard, but absolutely in- 
visible otherwise ; yet papa keeps calling me to look out of the 
window and admire it, and shouts to people driving by to do 
the same. He has just come in, and I told him what I was say- 
ing about him, on which he gave me a good beating, doubled 

up his fist at me, and then kissed me to make up Dont seiv 

Tsn't it enough that I have nearly killed myself with doing it ? 
We have just heard of the death of Dickens and the sensation 
it is making in England. 

Thursday. — This bird of ours is splendid. I have just 
framed the two best likenesses of you and hung them up in 
front of my table. You would laugh at papa's ways about cof 
fee. He complains that he drank too much at Philadelphia, 
and says that with strawberries we don't need it, and that I 
may tell Maria so. I tell her, and lo ! the next morning there 
it is. I ask the meaning, and she says he came down saying I 
did not feel very well and needed it ! The next day it appears 
again. Why ? He had been down and ordered it because it 
was good. The next day he orders it because it is his last day 
here but one, and to-morrow it will be on the table because it 
is the last ! Dreadful man ! and yet I hate to have him go. 

Fj'iday. — I drove papa to iNIanchester, and as usual, this ex- 
ploit brought on a thunder shower, with a much needed deluge 
of rain. I had a hard time getting home, and got wet to the 
skin. I had not only to drive, but keep a roll of matting from 
slipping out, hold up the boot and the umbrella, and keep stop- 
ping to get my hat out of my eyes, which kept knocking over 
them. Then Coco goes like the wind this summer. Fortunate- 
ly 1 had my waterproof with me and got home safely. The 
v\ oist of it is that, in my bewilderment, I refused to let a wom- 
an get in who was walking to South Dorset. I shall die of 
remorse. Well, well, how it is raining, to be sure. 

Monday. — I hear that papa sent a dispatch to somebody lo 
know how I got here from Manchester. I do not wonder he is 
worried. I am such a poor driver, and it rained so dreadfully- 
M. follows me round lii^e a little dog ; if I go down cellar she 
goes down ; if I pick a strawberry she picks one ; if I stop 



IN hi:r no. Ml-; 



349 



picking she stops She is the sweetest lamb that ever was, and 
I am the Mary that's got her. I don't believe anybody else in 
the world loves me so well, unless it possibly is papa, and lie 
doesn't follow me down cellar, and goes off and picks straw- 
berries all by himself, and that on Sunday, too, when I had 
forbidden berrypicking ! We are rioting in strawberries, ju^ I 
as we did last summer. We live a good deal at sixes and 
sevens, but nobody cares. This afternoon I have been arrang- 
ing a basket for the hall table, with mosses, ferns, shells and 
white coral ; ever so pretty. 

JVednesday. — It is a splendid day and I expect papa. The 
children have not said a word about their food, though jiartly 
owing to no butcher and partly to the heat, I have had for twu 
days next to nothing ; picked fish one day and fish picked the 
next. We regarded to-day's dinner as a most sumptuous one, 
and I am sure Victoria's won't taste so good to her. Letters 
keep pouring in, urging papa to accept the Professorship at 
Chicago, and declaring tlie vote of the Assembly to be the voice 
of God. Of course, if he must accept, we should have to give 
up our dear little home here. But to me his leaving the min- 
istry would be the worst thing about it. After dinner the buys 
carried me off bodily to see strawberries and other plants ; 
then they made me go to the mill, and by that time I had no 
hair-pins on my head, to say nothing of hair. The boys are 
working away like all possessed. A little bird, probably one 
of those hatched here, has just come and perched himself on 
the piazza railing in front of me, and is making me an address 

which, unfortunately, I do not understand You have 

inherited from me a want of reverence for relics and the like. 
I wouldn't go as far as our barn to see the fig-leaves Adam and 
Eve wore, or all the hair of all the apostles ; anel when people 
are not born hero-worshippers, they can't even worshij-) them- 
selves as heroes. Fancy Dr. Schaff sending me back the MS. 
of a hymn I gave him, from a London jirinting-ollice I What 
could I do with it ? cover jelly with it ? He sent mc a InMnlifnl 
copy of his book, *' Christ in Song." 

Thursday, June 30///.— Papa, with J. and M., came kite last 
night, and we all made as great a time as if the (in-al Mogul 
had come. They give a most terrific account of the heat in 
fhe city You ask how Stepping Heavenward is selling. So 



350 THE LIFE OF MRS. TRENTISS. 

far 14,000. Nidworth has been a complete failure, though the 
publishers write me that it is a "gem." ' 

Monday^ July ^ih. — M. is so absorbed in the study of Vick's 
floral catalogue that she speaks of seeing such a thing in the 
Bible or Dictionary, when she means that she saw it in Vick. 
I did the same thing last night. She and I get down on our 
knees and look solemnly at the bare ground and point out up- 
springing weeds as better than nothing. I had a long call this 
morning from Mrs. F. Field, of East Dorset. They had a dear 
little bright-eyed baby baptized yesterday, which sat through 
all the morning service and behaved even better than I did, 
for it had no wandering thoughts. Mrs. F. said some friends 
of hers in Brooklyn received letters from France and from 
Japan simultaneously, urging them to read Stepping Heaven- 
ward, v/hich was the first they heard of it. We have celebrated 
the glorious Fourth by making and eating ice-cream. Papa 
brought a new-fashioned freezer, that professed to freeze in 
two minutes. We screwed it to the wood-house floor — or 
rather H. did — put in the cream, and the whole family stood 
and watched papa while he turned the handle. At the end of 
two minutes we unscrewed the cover and gazed inside, but 
there were no signs of freezing, and to make a long stor}^ short, 
instead of writing a book as I said I should, there we all were 
from half-past twelve to nearly two o'clock, when we decided 
to have dinner and leave the servants to finish it. It came on 
to the table at last, was very rich and rather good. The boys 
spent the afternoon in the woods firing off crackers. M. went 
visiting and papa took me to drive, it being a delightful after- 
noon. The boys have a few Roman candles which they are 
going to send off as soon as it gets dark enough. 

July iTft/i. — This is a real Dorset day, after a most refreshing 
rain, and M. and I have kept out of doors the whole morning, 
gardening and in the woods. Dr. and Mrs. Humphrey came 
down and spent last evening. She is bright and wide awake, 
and admired everything from the scenery out of doors to the 
matting and chintzes within. I told her there was nothing in 
the house to be compared with those who lived in it. Here 
comes a woman with four quarts of black raspberries and a 
fuss to make change. Papa and the boys are getting in the 
* Nidworth^ and His Three Mag-ic H'ands, published by Roberts Brothers. 



IN ITER HOME. 



351 



last hay with Albert. M. has just broiiglit in your letter. We 
are glad you have seen those remarkable scenes [at Obcr- 
Ammergau]. One would fancy it would become an old story. 
I should not like to see the crucifixion ; it must be enough to 
turn one's hair white in a single night. 

Saturday. — Yesterday I went with the children to walk r(^uiKl 
Rupert. We turned off the road to please the boys, to a brook 
with a sandy beach, where all three fell to digging wells, and I 
fell to collecting wild grape-vine and roots for my rustic work, 
and fell into the brook besides. We all enjoyed ourselves so 
much that we wished we had our dinners and could stay all 
day. On the way home, just as we got near Col. Sykes', we 
spied papa with the phaeton, and all got in. We must have 
cut a pretty figure, driving through the village ; M. in my lap, 
G. in papa's, and H. everywhere in general. 

July \\th. — Miss Vance was in last evening after tea, and 
says our lawn is getting on extremely well and that our seeds 
are coming up beautifully. This greatly soothed M.'s and my 
own uneasy heart, as we had rather supposed the lawn ought 
to be a thick velvet, and the seeds we sowed two weeks ago up 
and blooming. If vegetable corresponded to animal life, this 
would be the case. Fancy that what were eggs long after we 
came here, and then naked birds, are now full-fledged creat- 
ures on the wing, all off getting to housekeeping, each on his 
own hook ! 

July i^fh. — M. and I went on a tramp this forenoon and 
while we were gone Mrs. M. O. R. and Mary and Mrs. Van W. 
called. They brought news of the coming war. Papa showed 
them all over the house, not excepting your room, which I 
think a perfect shame — for the room looks forlorn. I think 
m.en ought to be suppressed, or something done to them. 
Maria told me she thought papa's sermon Sunday was "ilc- 
gant." 2ist.—\ feel greatly troubled lest this dreadful war 
should cut us off from each other. Mr. Butler writes that he 
does not see how people are to get home, and we do not see 
either. Papa says it will probably be impossible to liavc the 
Evangelical Alliance. And how prices of finery will go up ! 

July 27///. — M.'s and my own perseverance at our fl<nvcr-bed 
is beginning, at last, to be rewarded. We have portulaccas 
mignonette, white candy-tuft, nasturtiums, eutocas, etc. ; ana 



352 ' THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

the morning-glories, which are all behindhand, are just begin> 
ning to bloom. Never were flowers so fought for. It is the 
lion and the unicorn over again, I have nearly finished " Soil 
und Haben," and feel more like talking German than English. 
The Riverside Magazine has just come and completed my 
downfall, as it has a syllable left out of one of my verses, as 
has been the case with a hymn in the hymn-book at Cincinnati 
and one in the Association Monthly. I am now fairly entitled 
to the reputation of being a jolty rhymster. It has been a trifle 
cooler to-day and we are all refreshed by the change. 

Friday. — Papa read me last evening a nice thing about Step 
ping Heavenward from Dr. Robinson in Paris and a lady in 
Zurich, and I went to bed and slept the sleep of the just — till 
daylight, when five hundred flies began to flap into my ears, up 
my nose, take nips off my face and hands, and drove me dis- 
tracted. They woke papa, too, but he goes to sleep between 
the pecks. 

August ^th. — Tuesday I went on a tramp with M. and brought 
home a gigantic bracket. We met papa as we neared the house, 
and he had had his first bath in his new tank at the mill, and 
was wild with joy, as were also the boys. After dinner I made 
a picture frame of mosses, lichens, and red and yellow toad- 
stools, ever so pretty ; then proofs came, then we had tea, and 
then went and made calls. Yesterday on a tramp with M., whr 
wanted mosses, then home with about a bushel of ground-pine. 
Every minute of the afternoon I spent in trimming the grey 
room with the pine and getting up my bracket, and now the 
room looks like a bower of bliss. I was to go with M. on an- 
other tramp to-day, but it rains, and rain is greatly needed. 
The heat in New York is said to exceed anything in the mem- 
ory of man, something absolutely appalling. 

Friday. — Here I am on the piazza with Miss K. by my side, 
reading the Life of Faber. She got here last night in a beauti- 
ful moonlight, and as I had not told her about the scenery, she 
was so enchanted with it on opening her blinds this morning, 
that she burst into tears. I drove her round Rupert and took 
her into Cheney's woods, and the boys invited us down to their 
workshop ; so we went, and I was astonished to find that the 
ba.th-house is really a perfect affair, with two dressing-rooms 
and everything as neat as a pink. Miss K. is charmed with 



IN HKR HOME. 353 

everything, the cornucopias, natural brackets, crosses, etc., and 
her delusion as to all of us, whom she fancies saints and angels, 
is quite charming, only it won't last. 

13//^.— There is a good deal of sickness about the village. I 
made wine-jelly for four different people yesterday, and the 
rest of the morning Miss K., Mrs. Humphrey, and myself sat on 
a shawl in our woods, talking. We have had a tremendous 
rain, to our great delight, and the air is cooler, but the grass- 
hoppers, which are like the frogs of Egypt, are not diminished, 
and are devouring everything. I got a letter from cousin Mar\ 
yesterday, who says she has no doubt we shall get the ocean 
up here, somehow, and raise our own oysters and clams. 

16//V. — Papa and I went to Manchester to-day to make up 3 
lot of calls, and among other persons, we saw Mrs. C. of Trov, 
a bright-eyed old lady who was a schoolmate of my motlier's. 
She could not tell me anything about her except that she was 
very bright and animated, and that I knew before. Mrs. Wick- 
ham asked me to write some letters for a fair to be held for 
their church to-morrow ; so I wrote three in rhyme, not very 
good. 

August 2ot/i. — After dinner papa went to Manchester, taking 
both boys, and I went off with M. to Cheney's woods, where we 
got baskets full of moss, etc., and had a good time. The children 
are all wild on the subject of flowers and spend the evening 
studying the catalogues, which they ought to know by heart. 
I wonder if I have told you how our dog hates to remember the 
Sabbath day to keep it holy ? The moment the church-bell 
begins to ring, no matter where he is, or how soundly asleep, 
he runs out and gazes in the direction of the church, and as 
the last stroke strikes, lifts his nose high in the air and sets up 
the most awful wails, howls, groans, despairing remonstra.ices 
you can imagine. No games with the boys to-day — no romps, 
no going to Manchester, everybody telling me to get off their 
Sunday clothes — aow ! aow ! aow ! 

Dr. Adams' house has been broken into and robbed, and so 
has Dr. Field's. Mrs. 11. gave us the history of a cotillicl in 
Chicago between her husband and a despei-ate burglar armed 
with a dirk, who wanted, but did not get a large sum of money 
under his pillow ; also, of his being garroted and robbed, and 
having next day sent him a purse of $150, two pistols, a slug, a 
23 



354 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

loaded cane, and a watchman's rattle. Imagine him as going 
about loaded with all these things ! I never knew people wh j 
had met with such bewitching adventures, and she has the 
brightest way of telling them. 

Papa has got a telegram from Dr. Schaff asking him to come 
on to his little Johnny's funeral. This death must have been 
very sudden, as Dr. Schaff wrote last Tuesday that his wife was 
sick, but said nothing of Johnny. He is the youngest boy, 
about nine years old, I think, and you will remember they lost 
Philip, a beautiful child, born the same day as our G., the sum- 
mer we were at Hunter. When the despatch came papa and 
M. thought it was bad news about you, and I only thought ol 
Mr. Stearns ! There is no accounting for the way in which the 
human mind works. And now for bed, you sleepy head. 

Monday. — A splendid day, and we have all been as busy as 
bees, if not as useful, — H. making a whip to chastise the cow 
with, M., Nep and myself collecting mosses and toadstools ; of 
the latter I brought home 185 ! We were out till dinner-time, 
and after dinner I changed the mosses in my baskets and jar- 
dinet, no sm.all job, and M. spread out her treasures. She has 
at last found her enthusiasm, and I am so glad not only to have 
found a mate in my tramps, but to see such a source of pleas- 
ure opening before her as woods, fields and gardens have always 
been to me. We lighted this morning on what I supposed to be a 
horned-headed, ferocious snake, and therefore took great pleas- 
ure in killing. It turned out to be a common striped snake 
that had got a frog partly swallowed, and its legs sticking out 
so that I took them to be horns. Nep relieved his mind by 
barking at it. I announced at dinner that I was going to send 
for Vick's catalogue of bulbs, which news was received with ac- 
clamation. The fact is, we all seem to be born farmers or flor- 
ists ; and unless you bring us home something in the agricul- 
tural line, I don't know that yo\i can bring us anything we 
would condescend to look at. It is awful to read of the carnage 
going on in Europe. 

Aug. 27///. — Papa got home Tuesday night. Johnny Schaff 's 
death was from a fall ; he left the house full of life and health, 
and in a few minutes was brought in insensible, and only lived 

half an hour I take no pleasure in writing you, because 

we feel that you are not likely to get my letters. Still, I can 



N HER HOME. 



35S 



not make up my mind to stop writing. Never was a busier set 
of people than we. In the evening I read to the children from 
the German books you sent them ; am now on Thelka Von 
Grumpert's, which is a really nice book. I tell papa we are 
making an idol out of this place, but he says we are not. 

Tuesday. — We all set out to climb the mountain near Deacon 
Kellogg's. We snatched what we could for our dinner, and 
when we were ready to eat it, it proved to be eggs, bread and 
meat, cake, guava jelly, cider and water. We enjoyed the 
splendid view and the dinner, and then papa and the boys went 
home, and M., Nep and myself proceeded to climb higher, Nep 
so affectionate that he tired me out hugging me with his " arms," 
as H. calls them, and nearly eating me up, while M. was shak 
ing with laughter at his silly ways. We were gone from lo a.m 
to nearly 6 p.m., and brought home in baskets, bags, pockets 
and bosom, about thirty natural brackets, some very large and 
fearfully heavy. One was so heavy that I brought it home by 
kicking it down the mountain. I have just got some tlower 
seeds for fall planting, and the children are looking them over 
as some would gems from the mine. 

Thursday^ September ist. — Your letter has come, and we judge 
that you have quite given up Paris ; what a pity to have to do 
it ! We spent yesterday at Ilager brook with Mrs. Ilumplirey 
and her daughters ; papa drove us over in the straw wagon 
and came for us about 6 p.m. We had lobster salad and mar- 
malade, bread and butter and cake, and we roasted potatoes 
and corn, and the H.'s had a pie and things of that sort. When 
they saw the salad they set up such shouts of joy that papa 
came to see what was the matter. We had a nice time. To- 
day I have had proofs to correct and letters to write, and ber- 
ries to dry, but not a minute to sit down and think, ever^'body 
needing me at once. All are busy as bees and send K)ts of love. 
Give ever so much to the Smiths. 

September '^tli. — Here we are all sitting round the parlor 
table. The last three days have eacli brought a letter from 
you, and to-day one came from Mrs. S. to me, and one from 
Prof. S. to papa. I have no doubt that the decision for you tc 
return is a wise one and hope you will fall in with it cheerfully. 
Dr. Schaff is here, and yesterday pa[)a took iiim to Ilagcf 
brook, and to-day to the c[uarries ; splendid weather for both 



356 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

excursions, and Dr. S. seems to have enjoyed them extremely 
Last evening he read to us some private letters of Bismarck 
which were very interesting and did him great credit in every 
way. I had a long call from M. H. to-day ; she looked as sweet 
as possible and I loaded her with flowers. Papa is writing 
Mr. B. to thank him for a basket of splendid peaches he sent as 
to-day. H. has just presented me with three pockets full of 
toadstools. M. walked with me round Rupert square tliis 
afternoon, and we met a crazy woman who said she wondered 
I did not go into fits, and asked me why I didn't, in return I 
asked her where she lived, to which she replied, " In the world." 
We are all on the qui vive about the war news, especially Louis 
Napoleon's downfall, and you may depend we are glad he has 
used himself up. You can not bring anything to the children 
that will please them as seeds would. It delights me to see 
them so interested in garden work. Perhaps this will be my 
last letter. Your loving Mammie. 



IIL 

Further Glimpses of her Dorset Life. 

The following Recollections of Mrs. Prentiss by her friend, 
Mrs. Frederick Field, now of San Jose, California, afford addi- 
tional glimpses of her home life in Dorset. The picture is 
drawn in fair colors ; but it is as truthful as it is fair : 

it was the first Sunday in September, 1866. A quiet, perfect day among 
the green hills of Vermont ; a sacramental Sabbath, and we had come 
seven miles over the mountain to go up to the house of the Lord. I had 
brought my little two-months-old baby in my arms, intending to leave her 
during the service at our brother's home, which was near the church. I 
knew that Mrs. Prentiss was a "summer-boarder" in this home, that she 
vv^as the wife of a distinguished clergyman, and a literary woman of decided 
ability ; but it was before the " Stepping Heavenward " epoch of her life, 
and I had no very deep interest in the prospect of meeting her. We went 
in at the hospitably open door, and meeting no one, sat down in the pleasant 
family living-ioom. It was about noon, and we could hear cheerful voices 
talking over the lunch-table in the dining-room. Presently the door opened, 



IX IIFJ; IIo.MK. 



357 



and a slight, delicate-featured woman, with beautiful large dark eyes, came 
with rapid step into the room, going across to the hall door; but her quick 
eye caught a glimpse of my little "bundle of flannel," and not pausing for 
an introduction or word of preparatory speech, she came towards me with 
a beaming face and outstretched hands : — 

"O, have you a baby there? How delightful ! I haven't seen one fur 
such an age, — please, may I take it? the darling tiny creature. — a girl: 
How lovely ! " 

She took the baby tenderly in her arms and went on in her eager, quick, 
informal way, but with a bright little blush and smile, — " I'm not very 
polite — pray, let me introduce myself! I'm Mrs. Prentiss, and you are 
Mrs. F , I know." 

After a little more sweet, motherly comment and question over the 
baby, — "a touch of nature " which at once made us "akin," she asked. 
" Have you brought the baby to be christened ? " 

I said. No, I thought it would be better to wait till she was a hi tic 
older. 

*' O, no ! " she pleaded, " do let us take her over to the church now. 
The younger the better, I think ; it is so uncertain about our keeping such 
treasures." 

I still objected that I had not dressed the little one for so public an 
occasion. 

" O, never mind about that," she said. " She is really lovelier in this 
simple fashion than to be loaded with lace and embroidery." Then, hei 
sweet face growing more earnest, — "There will be more of us here to-da) 
than at the next communion — more of us to pray for her." 

The little lamb was taken into the fold that day, and I was Mrs. Pren- 
tiss' warm friend forevermore. Her whole beautiful character had revealed 
itself to me in that little interview, — the quick perception, the wholly frank, 
unconventional manner, the sweet motherliness, the cordial interest in even 
a stranger, the fervent piety which could not bear delay in duty, and even 
the quaint, original, forcible thought and way of expressing it, "There'll 
be more of us here to pray for her to-day." 

For seven successive summers I saw more or less of her in this 
*• Earthly Paradise," as she used to call it, and once I visited her in her city 
home. I have been favored with many of her sparkling, vivacious letters, 
and have read and re-read all her published writings; but that first meet- 
ing held in it for me the key-note of all her wonderlully beautiful and 
symmetrical character. 

She brought to that liitL hamlet among the hills a sweet and whole- 
some and powerful influence. While her time was too valuable to be 
wasted in a general sociability, she yet found leisure for an extensive 
acquaintance, for a kindly interest in all her neighbors, and for Ciiristian 
work of many kinds. Probably the weekly meeting for nible-reading and 



358 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

prayer, which she conducted, was her closest hnk with the women o 
Dorset ; but these meetings were estabhshed after I had bidden good-bye 
lo the dear old town, and I leave others to tell how their " hearts burned 
within them as she opened to them the Scriptures." 

She had in a remarkable degree the lovely feminine gift oi honie-inakhi.(. 
She was a true decorative artist. Her room when she was boarding, and 
her home after it was completed, were bowers of beauty. Every walk over 
hill and dale, every ramble by brookside or through wildwood, gave to hei 
some fresh home-adornment. Some shy wildflower or fern, or brilliant- 
tinted leaf, a bit of moss, a curious lichen, a deserted bird's-nest, a strange 
fragment of rock, a shining pebble, would catch her passing glance and 
reveal to her quick artistic sense possibilities of use which were quaint, 
original, characteristic. One saw from afar that hers was a poet's home ; 
and, if permitted to enter its gracious portals, the first impression deepened 
into certainty. There was as strong an individuality about her home, and 
especially about her own little study, as there was about herself and her 
writings. A cheerful, sunny, hospitable Christian home ! Far and wide 
its potent influences reached, and it was a beautiful thing to s«e how many 
another home, humble or stately, grew emulous and blossomed into a new 
loveliness. 

Mrs. Prentiss was naturally a shy and reserved woman, and necessarily 
a pre-occupied one. Therefore she was sometimes misunderstood. But 
those who knew her best, and were blest with her rare intimacy, knew her 
as "a perfect woman nobly planned." Her conversation was charming. 
Her close study of nature taught her a thousand happy symbols and illus- 
trations, which made both what she said and wrote a mosaic of exquisite 
comparisons. Her studies of character were equally constant and pene- 
trating. Nothing escaped her; no pecuHarity of mind or manner failed of 
her quick observation, but it was always a kindly interest. She did not 
ridicule that which was simply ignorance or weakness, and she saw with 
keen pleasure all that was quaint, original, or strong, even when it was hid- 
den beneath the homeliest garb. She had the true artist's liking for that 
which was simple and^^/^r<?. The common things of common life appealed 
to her sympathies and called out all her attention. It was a real, hearty in- 
terest, too — not feigned, even in a sense generally thought praiseworthy. 
Indeed, no one ever had a more intense scorn of every sort oi feigning. 
She was honest, truthful, gc7itdne to the highest degree. It may ha\e 
sometimes led her into seeming lack of courtesy, but even this was a failing 
which " leaned to virtue's side." I chanced to know of her once calling 
with a friend on a country neighbor, and finding the good housewife b'>-isy 
over a rag-carpet. Mrs. Prentiss, who had never chanced to see one of these 
bits o'.' rural manufacture in its elementary processes, was full of questions 
and interest, thereby quite evidently pleasing the unassuming artist in as- 
sorted rags and home-made dyes. When the visitors were safely outside the 



IN HER IIOMF. 35c 

door, Mrs. Prentiss' friend turned to her with the exrlamation, " Whnt tnct 
you have ! She really thought you were interested in her work ! '" The 
quick blood sprang into Mrs. Prentiss' face, and she turned upon her friend 
1 look of amazement and rebuke. "Tact!" she said, "I despise such 
.act ! — do you think / would look or act a lie? " 

She was an exceedingly practical woman, not a dreamer. A systematic, 
tliorough jioust keeper, with as exalted ideals in all the affairs which jK-rlain 
to good housewifery as in those matters which are generally thought to 
transcend these humble occupations. Like Solomon's virtuous woman sht; 
"looked well after the ways of her household." Methodical, careful of 
minutes, simple in her tastes, abstemious, and therefore enjoying evenly 
good health in spite of her delicate constitution — this is the secret of her 
accomplishing so much. Yet all this foundation of exactness and diligence 
was so " rounded with leafy gracefulness " that she never seemed angular 
or unyielding. 

With her children she was a model disciplinarian, exceedingly strict, a 
wise law-maker; yet withal a tender, devoted, self-sacrificing mother. I 
have never seen such exact obedience required and given — or a more idol- 
ized mother. "Mamma's" word was indeed Law, but— O, happy combi- 
nation ! — it was also Gospel! 

How warm and true her friendship was! How little of seltishness in 
all her intercourse with other women ! How well she loved to be oi scn'ice 
to her friends ! How anxious that each should reach her highest possibili- 
ties of attainment ! I record with deepest sense of obligation the cordial, 
generous, sympathetic assistance of many kinds extended by her to me dur- 
ing our whole acquaintance. To every earnest worker in any field che 
gladly "lent a hand," rejoicing in all the successes of others as if they were 
her own. 

But if weakness, or trouble, or sorrow of any sort or degree overtook 
one she straightway became as one of God"s own ministering spirits— an 
angel of strength and consolation. Always more eager, however, that souh 
should grow than that pain should cease. Volumes couUl be made of hci 
letteis to friends in sorrow. One tender monotone steals through them all,— 

" Come unto me, my kindred, I enfold you 
In an embrace to sufferers only known ; 
Close to this heart 1 tenderly will hold you, 
Suppress no si^h, keep back no tear, no moar.. 

" Thou Man of Sorrow?, teach my lips that often 
Have told tiie sacred story of my woe, 
To speak of Thee till stony {jricfs I soften, 

Till hearts that know Thoe nut loam Thee to know. 

" Till peace takes place of storm and a-italion, 
Till lyinp: on the current of Thy will 
There shall be j:::lor>inj; in tribulation, 
And Christ Himself each jmply licart siiall GIL** 



360 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

Few have the gift or the courage to deai faithfully yet lovingly with an 
erring soul, but she did not shrink back even from this service to those she 
loved. I can bear witness to the wisdom, penetration, skill, and fidelity 
with which she probed a terribly wounded spirit, and then said with tendei 
solemnity, " / think you need a great deal of good pray mg." 

O, "vanished hand," still beckon to us from the Eternal Heights O 
' vor;': that is still," speak to us yet from the Shining Shore ! 

" Still let thy mild rebuking stand 
Between us and the wronj;, 
And thy dear memory serve to maJce 
Our fakli in goodness strong." 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 

1871-1872. 
I. 

Two Years of Suffering. Its Nature and Causes. Spiritual Conflicts. Ill-health. 
Faith a Gift to be won by Prayer. Death-bed of Dr. Skinner. Visit to Philadel- 
phia. " Daily Food." How to read the Bible so as to love it more. LeltTs ui 
Sympathy and Counsel. " Prayer for Holiness brings Suffering." Perils of li-nnau 
Friendship. 

If in the life of Mrs. Prentiss the year 1870 was marked 
with a white stone as one of great happiness, the two follow- 
ing years were marked by unusual and very acute suffering 
Perhaps something of this was, sooner or later, to have been 
looked for in the experience of one whose organization, b(»lh 
physical and mental, was so intensely sensitive. Tragical ele- 
ments are latent in every human life, especially in the life of 
woman. And the finer qualities of her nature, her \ast capac- 
ity of loving and of self-sacrifice, her peculiar cares and triah., 
as well as outward events, are always tending to bring these 
elements into action. What scenes surpassing fable, scenes 
both bright and sad, belong to the secret history of m.my a 
quiet woman's heart! Then our modern civilization, while 
placing woman higher in some respecls than she ever stood 
before, at the same time makes her pay a heavy price for her 
advantages. In the very process of enlarging her sphere and 
opportunities, whether intellectual or practical, and of educat- 
ing her for their duties, does it not also expose her to moraJ 
shocks and troubles and lacerations of feeling almost peculiar 
to our times? Nor is religion wlv^lly exempt from the spirit 
that rules the age or the hour. There is a close, though often 

(361) 



^(^2 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

very subtle, connexion between the two ; just as there is be- 
tween the working of nature and grace in the individual souL 

The phase of her history upon which Mrs. Prentiss was 
now entering can not be fully understood without considering 
it in this light. The melancholy that was deep-rooted in her 
temperament, and her tender, all-absorbing sympathies, made 
her very quick to feel whatever of pain or sorrow pervaded the 
social atmosphere about her. The thought of what others were 
suffering would intrude even upon her rural retreat among the 
mountains, and render her jealous of her own rest and joy. 
And then, in all her later years, the mystery of existence 
weighed upon her heart more and more heavily. In a nature 
so deep and so finely strung, great happiness and great sorrow 
are divided by a very thin partition. 

But spiritual trials and conflict gave its keenest edge to 
the suffering of these years. Such trials and conflict indeed 
were not wanting in the earliest stages of her religious life, 
nor had they been wanting all along its course; but they 
came now with a power and in a manner almost wholly new ; 
and, while not essentially different from those which have 
afflicted God's children in all ages, they are yet traceable, in 
no small degree, to special causes and circumstances in her 
own case. Early in 1870 she had fallen in with a book enti- 
tled '' God's Furnace," and a few months later had made the 
acquaintance of its author — a remarkable woman, of great 
strength of character, of deep religious experience, and full of 
zeal for God. Her book was introduced to the Christian pub- 
lic by a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman, and was highly 
recommended by other eminent divines. By means of this 
work, as well as by correspondence and an occasional visit, 
she exerted for a time a good deal of influence over Mrs. 
Prentiss. At first this influence seemed to be stimulatinc: and 
healthful, but it was not so in the en 1. The points of sympa- 
thy and the points of difference between them will come out 
so plainly in Mrs. Prentiss' letters that they need not be indi- 
cated here. It would not be easy to imagine two women more 
utterly dissimilar, except in love to God, devotion to their 
Saviour, and delight in prayer. These formed the tie betweeMi 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 363 

them. Miss 's last days were sadly clouded by mental 

trouble and disease. 

A little book called " Holiness through Faith," i)ublished 
about this time, was another disturbing influence in Mrs. Pren- 
tiss' religious life. This work and others of a similar character 
presented a somewhat novel theory of sanctification — a theory 
zealously taught, and which excited considerable attention in 
r,ertain circles of the Christian community. It was, in brief, 
this: As we are justified by faith without the deeds of the law, 
cv^en so are we sanctified by faith ; in other words, as we ob- 
tain forgiveness and acceptance with God by a simple act of 
trust in Christ, so by simple trust in Christ we may attain 
personal holiness ; it is as easy for divine grace to save us at 
once from the power, as from the guilt, of sin. 

For more than thirty years Mrs. Prentiss had made the 
Christian life a matter of earnest thought and study. The 
subject of personal holiness in particular had occupied her at- 
tention. Whatever promised to shed new light upon it she 
eagerly read. Her own convictions, however, were positive 
and decided ; and, although at first inclined to accept the doc- 
trine of '' Holiness through Faith," further reflection satisfied 
her that, as taught by its special advocates, it was contrary to 
Scripture and experience, and was fraught with mischief.. Cer- 
tain unhappy tendencies and results of the doctrine, both 
at home and abroad, as shown in some of its teachers and dis- 
ciples, also forced her to this conclusion. Folly of some sort 
is indeed one of the fatal rocks upon which all overstrained 
theories of sanctification are almost certain to be wrecked ; 
and in excitable, crude r.atures, the evil is apt to take the form 
cither of mental extravagance, perhaps derangement, or of 
silly, if not still worse, conduct. lUit, while deeply impressed 
with the mischief of these Perfectionist theories, Mrs. IVcntiss 
felt the heartiest sympathy with all earnest seekers after hoji- 
ness, and was grieved by what seemed to her harsh or unjust 
criticisms upon them. 

What were her own matured views on the subject will a[>. 
pear in the sequel. It is enough to say here that " Holiness 
through Faith" and other works, in advocacy of the same or 



364 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

similar doctrines, meeting her as they did when under a severe 
mental strain, and touching her at a most sensitive point — for 
holiness was a passion of her whole soul — had for a time a 
more or less bewildering effect. She kept pondering the 
questions they raised, until the native hue of her piety — hith- 
erto so resolute and cheerful — became '' sicklied o'er with the 
pale cast of thought." 

The inward conflict which has been referred to she de- 
scribed sometimes, in the language of the old divines, as the 
want of God's " sensible presence," or of '' conscious " near- 
ness to and communion with Christ : sometimes, as a state 
of ''spiritual deprivation or aridity"; and then again, as a 
work of the Evil One. She laid much stress upon this last 
point. Her belief in the existence of Satan and his influence 
over human souls was as vivid as that of Luther; she did not 
hesitate to accuse him of being the fomenter and, in a sense, 
the author of her distress ; the w^arnings of the Bible against 
his "wiles" she accepted as in full force still; and she could 
offer with all her heart, and with no doubt as to the literal 
meaning of its closing words, the petition of the old Litany : 
'' That it may please Thee to strengthen such as do stand, and 
to comfort and help the weak-hearted, and to raise up those 
who fall, and finally to deat down Satan under our feet ^ 

The coming trouble seems to have cast its shadow across 
her path even before the close of 1870. Early in 1871 it was 
upon her in power. Her letters contain very interesting and 
pathetic allusions to this experience. But they do not ex- 
plain it. Nor is it easy to explain. In the absence of certain 
inciting causes from without, it would never, perhaps, have 
assumed a serious form. But these sharp spiritual trials are 
generally complicated with external causes, or occasions ; ill- 
health, morbid constitutional tendencies, los^ of sleep, wear- 
ing cares and responsibilities, sudden calamities, worldly loss 
or disappointment, and the like. It is in the midst of such 
conditions that pious souls are most apt to be assailed by 
gloom and despondency. And yet distressing inv ard strug- 
gles and depression arise sometimes in the midst of outward 
prosperity and even of unusual religious enjoyment. h: 



THE TRIAL 01- IIKR FAITH. 365 

truth, among all the phenomena of the Christian life none are 
more obscure or harder to seize than those connected with 
spiritual conflict and temptation. They belong largely to that 
ter7-a incognita, the dark back-ground of human consciousness, 
where are the primal forces of the soul and the mustering- 
place of good and evil. A certain mystery enshrouds all pr-i- 
found religious emotion; whether of the peace of God that 
passeth all understanding, or of the anguish that comes of 
spiritual desertion. Those who are in the midst of the battle, 
or bear its scars, will instantl)' recognise an experience like 
their own ; to all others it must needs remain inexplicable. 
Even in the natural life our deepest joys and sorrows are 
mostly inarticulate; the great poets come nearest to giving 
them utterance; but how much the reality always surpasses 
the descriptions of the poet's pen, even though it be the pen 
of a Shakespeare, or a Goethe ! 

Mrs. Prentiss never afterward referred to this '' fiery trial " 
without strong emotion. It terrified her to think of anyone 
she loved as exposed to it ; and — not to speak of other classes 
— she seemed to regard those as specially exposed to it, who 
had just passed, or were passing, through an unusually rich 
and happy religious experience. One of her last letters, 
addressed to a dear Christian friend, related to this very point. 
Here are a few sentences from it : 

I want to give you emphatic warning that you were never 
in such danger in your life. This is ihe language of bitter, 
bitter experience and is not mine alone. Leighton says tlie 
great Pirate lets the empty ships go by and robs the full 
ones.' .... I do hope you will go on your way rejt)ieing, 
unto the perfect day. Hold on to Ciirist witli your tcclh ' 

' " Especially after a tinit: of some special seasons of jjrace, aiul some special new iiii>- 
i;lies of grace, received in such .seasons, (as after the holy sacrament), then will he scl 
on most eag:erly, when he knows of the richest booty. The pirates that let the .ship? p.i'<« 
.13 tliey go by empty, watch them well, when they return richly laden ; s<i doth this fjr«..vt 
Pirate." — Archbishop Leighton, on I Peter, v. 8. 

2 '• Cynegvius, a valiant Athenian, being in a great sea-fight against the Mede?, c.'.pying 
a ship of the enemy's well manned, and fitteri for service, when no other means would 
serve, he grasped it willi Ins hands to maintain the fight ; and when hJs right hand waj 
cut oflf, he held close with his left ; but both hands being taken off, he held it fxM will 
his teeth." 



366 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

if your hands get crippled ; He, alone, is stronger than Satan 
He, alone, knows all " sore temptations " mean. 

This, certainly, is strong language and will sound very 
strange and extravagant in many ears; and yet is it really 
stronger language than that often used by inspired prophets 
and apostles? or than that of Augustine, Bernard, Luther, 
Hooker, Fenelon, Bunyan, and of many saintly women, whose 
names adorn the annals of piety? Strong as it is, it will find 
an echo in hearts that have been assailed by the " fiery darts 
of the adversary," and have learned to cry unto God out of 
the depths of mental anguish and gloom ; while others still in 
the midst of the conflict, will, perhaps, be helped and com, 
forted to read of the manner in wdiich Mrs. Prentiss passed 
through it. Nothing in the story of her religious life is more 
striking and beautiful. Her faith never failed ; she glorified 
God in the midst of it all ; she thanked her Lord and Master 
for " taking her in hand," and begged Him not to spare her for 
her crying, if so be she might thus learn to love Him more 
and grow more like Him ! And, what is especially note- 
worthy, l;^er own suffering, instead of paralysing, as severe 
suffering sometimes does, active sympathy with the sorrows 
and trials of others, had just the contrary effect. " How soon," 
she wrote to a friend, " our dear Lord presses our experiences 
into His own service! How many lessons He teaches us in 
order to make us ' sons ' (or daughters) ' of consolation ! ' " 
To another friend she wrote : 

I did not perceive any selfishness in you during our inter- 
view, and you need not be afraid that I am so taken up with 
my own affairs as to feel no sympathy with you in yours. What 
are we made for, if not to bear each other's burdens ? And 
this ought to be the effect of trial upon us ; to make us, in the 
very midst of it, unusually interested in the interests of others. 
This is the softening, sanctifying tendency of tribulation, and 
he who lacks it needs harder blows. 

At no period of her life was she more helpful to afflicted 
and tempted souls. In visits to sick-rooms and dying beds, 
and in letters to friends in trouble, her heart "like the noble 



THE TRIAL OF HER FAITH. 367 

tree that is wounded itself when it gives the bahn," poured 
itself forth in the most tender, soothing ministrations. It 
seemed at times fairly surcharged with love. Meanwhile she 
kept her pain to herself ; only a few intimate friends, whoso 
prayers she solicited, knew what a struggle was going on in 
her soul ; to all others she appeared very much as in her ha[v 
piest days. "It is a little curious," she wrote to a youug 
friend, '' that suffering as I really am, nobody sees it. * Always 

bright ! ' people say to me to my amazement I can 

add nothing but love, of which I am so full that I keep giving 
off in thunder and lightning." 

The preceding account would be incomplete without aclci- 
ing that the state of her health during this period, combined 
with a severe pressure of varied and perplexing cares, served to 
deepen the distress caused by her spiritual trials. Whatever 
view may be taken of the origin and nature of such trials, it 
is certain that physical depression and the mental strain that 
comes of anxious, care-worn thoughts, if not their source, 
yet tend always greatly to intensify them. In the present 
case the trials would, perhaps, not have existed without the 
cares and the ill-health; while the latter, even in the entire 
absence of the former, would have occasioned severe suiferiiig 

If I need make any apology for writing you so often, it 

To Mrs n^ust be this — I can not help it. Having dwelt long in 

Frederick an obscure, oftentimes dark valley, and then passed 

Field. Neuo . ,., , c ^' e t' rnr* 1 

York, Jan. out mto a bright plane of life, I am full of tendei 
8, 1871. yearnings over other souls, and would ghidly spend 
my whole time and strength for them. I long, especially, t«j 
see your feet established on an immovable Rock. It seems to 
me that God is preparing you for great usefulness by the liery 
trial of your faith. "They learn in suffering what tliey leach 
in song." Oh how true this is ! Who is so fitted to sing 
praises to Christ as he who has learned Him in hours of be 
reavement, disappointment and despair? 

What you want is to let your intellect go overboard, if need 
be, and to take what God gives just as a little chiM !.i!.i s it, 
without money and without price. Faith is His, un' ' s. 

Mo process of reasoning can soothe a mother's empty, aciiing 



368 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

heart, or bring Christ into it to fill up ail that great waste 
room. But faith can. And faith is His gift ; a gift to be won 
by prayer — prayer persistent, patient, determined ; prayer that 
will take no denial ; prayer that if it goes away one day un- 
satisfied, keeps on saying, ''Well, there's to-morrow and to- 
morrow and to-morrow ; God may wait to be gracious, and I 
can wait to receive, but receive I must and will." This is what 
the Bible means when it says, " the kingdom of heaven suffereth 
violence and the violent take it by force." It does not say 
the eager, the impatient take it by force, but the violent — they 
who declare, " I will not let Thee go except Thou blfess me." 
This is all heart, not head work. Do I know what I am talking 
about ? Yes, I do. But my intellect is of no use to me when 
my heart is breaking. I must get down on my knees and own 
that I am less than nothing, ccek God, not joy ; consent to suffei, 
not cry for relief. And how transcendently good He is when 
He brings me down to that low place and there shows me that 
that self-renouncing, self-despairing spot is just the one where 
He will stoop to meet me ! 

My dear friend, don't let this great tragedy of sorrow fail 
to do everything for you. It is a dreadful thing to lose children; 
but a lost sorrow is the most fearful experience life can bring. I 
feel this so strongly that I could go on writing all day. It has 
been said that the intent of sorrow is to "toss us on to God's 
promises." Alas, these waves too often toss us away out to 
sea, where neither sun or stars appear for many days. I pray, 
earnestly, that it may not be so with you. 

Amone Mrs. Prentiss' most beloved and honored friends 
in New York was the Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Skinner, the first 
pastor of the Mercer street church, and then, for nearly a 
quarter of a century, Professor in the Union Theological 
Seminary. His attachment to her, as also that of his family, 
was very strong. Dr. Skinner had been among the leaders of 
the so-called New School branch of the Presbyterian Church. 
He was a preacher of great spiritual power, an able, largo- 
hearted theologian, and a man of most attractive personal and 
social qualities. He was artless as a little child, full of enthu- 
siasm for the best things, and a pattern of saintly goodness. 
It used to be said that every stone and rafter in the Church of 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 369 

the Covenant had felt the touch of his prayers. This vener 
able servant of God entered into his rest on the ist of 
February, 1 871, in the 80th year of his age. In a letter to 
her cousin, Rev. George S. Payson, Mrs. Prentiss thus refers 
to his last hours : 

You will hear at dear Tr. Skinner's funeral to-morrow his 
dying testimony, and I want you to know that it was whispered 
in my enraptured ear, that I was privileged to spend the whole 
of Tuesday and all he lived of Wednesday, at his side, and that 
mine were the hands that closed his eyes and composed his 
features in death. What blissful moments were mine, as I saw 
his sainted soul fly home ; how near heaven seemed and still 
seems ! 

I am glad to hear that you have such an interesting class, 
To Miss and yet more glad that you see how much Christian 
Giimati, Culture they need. I am astonished every day by 
New York, confessions made to me by 3'oung people as to their 
1S71. woful state before God, and do hope that all this is to 
prepare me to write something for them. I began a scries of 
articles in the Association Monthly, called " Twilight Talks," 
which may perhaps prove to be in a degree what you want, but 
still there is much land untraversed. Meanwhile I want to 
encourage you in your work, by letting you feel my deep 
sympathy with you in it, and to assure you that nothing will 
be so blessed to your scholars as personal holiness in yourself. 
We must practise what we preach, and give ourselves wholly to 
Christ if we want to persuade others to do it. I am saying 
feebly what I feel very deeply and constantly. You will rejoice 
with me that I had the rare privilege of being with dear Dr. 
Skinner during his last hours. If you have a copy of Watts 
and Select hymns, read the io6th hymn of the 2d book, begin- 
ning at the 2d verse, " Lord, when I tjuit this earthly stage," and 
fancy, if you can, the awe and the delight with which I heard 
him repeat those nine verses, as expressive of his dying love to 
Christ. I feel that God is always too good to me, but to have 
Him make me witness of that inspiring scene, humbles me 
greatly. In how many ways He seeks us, now smiling, now 
.aressing, now reproving, now thwarting, and alivays doing the 
24 



370 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

very best thing for us that infinite love and goodness can . 
Let us love Him better and better every day, and count no 
work for Him too small and unnoticed to be wrought thank- 
fully whenever He gives the opportunity. I hope I am learning 
to honor the day of small things. 

So you have at last broken the ice and made out, after al- 

To Mrs "^ost a year, to write that promised letter ! Well, it 

Humphrey, -^yas wortli waitinor for, and welcome when it came, 
New York, , , , . ^ , . , . ' 

March x^, and awakened in me an enthusiasm about seeing the 

^^^^' dear creature, of which I hardly thought my old heart 
was capable (that statement is an affectation ; my heart isn't 
old, and never will be). Our plan now is, if all prospers, to go 
to Philadelphia on Friday afternoon, spend the night with you, 
Saturday with Mrs. Kirkbride, and Sunday and part of Monday 
with you. I hope you mean to let us have a quiet little time 
with you, unbeknown to strangers, whom I dread and shrink 
from 

March 2W1. — What a queer way we womenkind have of con- 
fiding in each other with perfectly reckless disregard of conse- 
quences ! It is a mercy that men are, for the most part, more 
prudent, though not half so delightful ! . . . . Well, I'm ever 
so glad I've seen you in your home, only I found you more 
frail (in the way of health) than I found you fair. We hear 
that your husband preached "splendidly," as of course we 
knew he would, and the next exchange I shall be there to hear 
as well as to see. 

Coming out of the cars yesterday, I picked up a "Daily 

Food," dropped, I suppose, by its owner, " Sarah ," of 

Philadelphia, given her by "Miss H. in 1853." It has travelled 
all over Europe, and is therefore no doubt precious to her who 
thus made it her friend. Now how shall I get it to her ? Can 
you learn her address, or shall I write to her at a venture, with- 
out one ? I know how I felt when I once lost mine ; it was 
given me in 1835, and has gone with me ever since whenever I 
have journeyed (as I was so happy as to find it again).' I think 

' The following lines found on one of its blank pages were written perhaps al this time 
Precious companion ! rendered dear 
By trial-hours of many a year, 
I love thee with a tenderness 
Which words have never yet defined. 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 37 1 

i{ I have the pleasure of restoring it to its owner, she will feel 
glad that it did not fall into profane hands. I thought it righ*- 
to look through it, in order to get some clue, if possible, to its 
destination ; I fancy it was the silent comforter of a wife who 
went abroad with her husband for his health, and came hom(! 
a widow ; God bless her, whoever she is, for she evidently be- 
lieves in and loves Him. What sort of a world can it be to 
those who don't ?^ Remember me affectionately to yourself 
and your dear ones, and now we've got a-going, let's go ahead. 
Aj^ri/ is/. — What a pity it is that one can't have a separate 
language with which to address each beloved one I It seems 
so mean to use the same words to two or three or four people 
one loves so differently ! Now about my visit to you. One 
reason why I did not stay longer was your looking worn out. 
When I am feeling so dragged, visitors are a great wear and 
tear to me. But I am afraid my selfishness would have got the 
upperhand of me if that were the whole story. I can't put into 
words the perfect horror I have of being made into a some- 
body ; it fairly hurts me, and if I had stayed a week with you 
and the host of people you had about you, I should iiave 
shriveled up into the size of a pea. I can't deny having streaks 
of conceit, but I /^/low enough about myself to make my rational 
moments bid me keep in the background, and it excruciates me 
to be set up on a pinnacle. So don't blame me if I lied in ter- 

Whcn tired and sad and comfortless, 
With achinfj heart and weary mind, 

How oft thy words of promise stealing 
Like Gilcad's balm-drops — soft and low. 

Have touched the heart with power of healing, 
And soothed the sharpest hour of woe. 
1 A friend writing to Mrs. Prentiss, under date of September 24, 1872, refers ti) Lady 
Stanley's high praise of The Story Lizzie Told, and then adds : •' Vou must be so accus- 
tomed to friendly ' notices' — so almost borod by them — that I hesitate to tell you of meet- 
ing another admirer of yours in the person of Mrs. , of Philadelphia, who was in- 
debted to you for the return of a little text-book. She means to call on you some day, if 
she is ever in New York, to thank you in person for that act of kindness of yours, and 
for your 'Stepping Heavenward.' She is a daughter of the late Chief Justice of Penn- 
sylvania. Her mother, a staunch old Scotch lady over 80, has just returned from Eurojie. 

Mrs. is a very interesting woman, of warm religious feelings and very ouLspt^kcn. 

She was the companion of the famous Mrs. IL, of Philadelphia, all through the war,— as 
one of the independent workers, or perhaps in connection with the Christian Commission. 
She witnessed llie battle of ChancellorsvilJe — a part of it at Mary's Heights, and lias toW 
me a great deal the.t was thrilling — told as s/u- tells it — even at this late day. She haj 
the profoundest belief in what is called the 'work of faith' by prayer and I don't beiic%'e 
ihe would siirink from accepting Prof. Tyndall's challenge." 



3/2 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

ror, and that I am looking forward to j^our visit, when I hope 
to have delightful pow-wows with you all by ourselves. 

I am glad that little book can be returned, and I will mail it 
to you. I couldn't send it without a loving word ; it seemed to 
fall so providentially into my hands and knock so at the door 
of my heart. In what strange ways people get introduced to 
^ach other, and how subtle are the influences that excite a bond 
of sympathy ! . . . . What do you do with girls who fall madly 
and desperately in love with you ? Do you laugh at them, or 
3cold them, or love them, or what ? I used to do just such crazy 
things, and am not sure I never do them now. Did you evei 
live in a queerer world than this is ? 

The subject of your letter is one that greatly interests me 

To Miss ^"^ ^ should be glad to get more light upon it myself. 

B. s. Gil- As far as I know, those who live apart from the world, 

Pta7t, NeiV . .i/-«i !• r TT- ^ ' n - 

York.Api'il communmg with God and workmg for Him cliieny in 
29> 1S71. pj-^ygj.^ have least temptation to wandering and dis- 
iracted thoughts, and are more devout and spiritual than those 
of us who live more in the world. But it stands to reason that 
we can't all live so. The outside work must go on, and some- 
body must do it. But of course we have the hardest time, 
since while in the world we m^ust not be of it. I have come, of 
late, to think that both classes are needed, the contemplative 
and the active, and God does certainly take the latter aside 
now and then as you suggest, by sickness and in other ways, to 
set them thinking. Holiness is not a mere abstraction ; it is 
praying and loving and being consecrate, but it is also the do- 
ing kind deeds, speaking friendly words, being in a crowd 
when we thirst to be alone, and so on and so on. The study of 
Christ's life on earth reveals Him to us as incessantly busy, yet 
taking special seasons for prayer. It seems to me that we should 
imitate Him in this respect, and when we find ourselves par- 
ticularly pressed by outward cares and duties, break short off 
and withdraw from them till a spir-tual tone returns. For we 
can do nothing well unless Ave do it consciously for Christ, and 
this consciousness sometimes gets jostled out of us when we 
undertake to do too much. The more perfectly He is formed 
in us the more light we shall get on every path of duty, the less 
likely to go astray from the happy medium of not all contem- 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 



0/3 



plation, not all activity. And to liave Ilim thus to dwell in us 
we are led to pray by His own last prayer for us on earth, 
when He asked for the "//;z t/iem." Let us pray for each other 
that tliis may be our blessed lot. Nothing will fit us for life 
but this. In ourselves we do nothing but err and sin. In Him 
we are complete. 



11. 



Her Husband calle.! to Chicago. Lines on going: to Dorset, Letters to young Friends, 
on the Christian Life. Narrow Escape from Death. Feeling on returning to 
Town. Her " Praying Circle." The Chicago Fire. The true Art of Living. God 
our only safe Teacher. An easily-besetting Sin. Counsels to young Friends. 
Letters. 

Mrs. Prentiss' letters relating to her husband's call to 
Chicago require perhaps an explanatory word. She had some 
very pleasant associations with Chicago. It was the home of 
a brother and sister-in-law, to whom she was deeply attached, 
and of other dear relatives. There Stepping Heavenward had 
first appeared, and many unknown friends — grateful for the 
good it had done them — were eager to form her acquaintance 
and bid her welcome to the great city of the Interior. And 
yet the thought of removing there filled her with the utmost 
distress. Had her husband's call been to some distant post in 
the field of Foreign Missions, her language on the subject could 
hardly have been stronger. But tliis language in rcalit\' ex- 
presses simply the depth of her devotion to her church and 
her friends in New York, her morbid sln-ncss and shrinking 
from the presence of strangers, and, espcciall\', her vivid sense 
of physical inability to make the change without risking the 
loss of what health and power of sleep still remained to her. 
Misgiving on this last point caused her husband to hesitate 
long before accepting the call, and to feel in after }-cars that 
his decision to accept it, although conscientiously made, had 
been a grave mistake. 



374 TIIE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

I knew that you would rather hear from me than through 
To Mrs ^^^ papers, the fact that Mr. Prentiss has been once 
Condict, more unanimously elected by the General Assembly 
junei, 'to the Chicago Professorship. He has come home 
'^^'' greatly perplexed as to his duty, and prepared to do 
it, at any reasonable cost, if he can only find out what it is. 
We built our Dorset house not as a mere luxury, but with the 
hope that the easy summer there would so build up our health 
as to increase and prolong our usefulness ; but going to Chicago 
would deprive us of that, besides cutting us off from all our 
friends. But we want to know no will but God's in this ques- 
tion, and I am sure )''0U and Miss K. will join us in the prayer 
that we may not so much as suggest to Him what path He will 
lead us into. The experience of the past winter would impress 
upon me the fact t\\a.t place and position have next to nothing to 
do with happiness ; that we can be wretched in a palace, radiant 
in a dungeon. Mr. P. said yesterday that it broke his heart to 
hear me talk of giving up Dorset ; but perhaps this heart- 
breaking is exactly what we need to remind us of what for 
Tiiany years we never had a chance to forget, that we are pil- 
grims and strangers on the earth. Two lines of my own keep 
running in my head : 

Oh foolish heart, oh faithless heart, oh heart on ruin bent, 
Build not with too much care thy nest, thou art in banishment. 

I have seen the time when the sense of being a pilgrim and a 
stranger was very sweet ; and God can sweeten whatever He 
does to us. So though perplexed we are not in despair, and if 
we feel that we are this summer living in a tent that may soon 
blow down, it is just what you are doing, and in this point we 
shall have fellowship. I am sure it is good for us to have God 
take up the rod, even if He lays it down again without inflict- 
ing a blow. I know we are going to pray till light comes. I 
teel very differently about it from what I did last summer. The 
mental conflicts of the past winter have created a good deal of 
indifference to everything. Without conscious union and near- 
ness to my Saviour I can't be happy anywhere ; for years He 
has been the meaning of everything, and when He only see?ni 
gone (I know it is only seeming) I don't much care where I am^ 
I am just trying to be patient till He makes Satan let goof me 
Excuse thib selfish letter, and write me one just as bad ! 



TIIF, TRIM. OF F.MTIl. 375 

On the /th of June she went to Dorset witli licr husband 
and the younger children. The following lines, found among 
her papers, will show in what temper of mind she went. It 
is worth noting that they were written on Monday, and ex- 
press a week-day, not merely a passing Sabbath feeling: 

Once more at home, once more at home — 

For what, dear Lord, I pray ? 
To seek enjoyment, please myself, 

Make life a summer's day ? 

I shrink, I shudder at the thought ; 

For what is home to me. 
When sin and self enchain my heart, 

And keep it far from Thee ? 

There is but one abiding joy, 

Nor place that joy can give ; 
It is Thy presence that makes home, 

That makes it " hfe to live." 

That presence I invoke ; naught else 

I venture to entreat ; 
1 long to see Thee, hear Thy voice, 

To sit at Thy dear feet. 

I trust it is an omen of good that the first letters I have re- 
ceived since coming here this summer, have been 
yoln^g full of the themes I love best. I was much struck 
Dof^ef with the sentence you quote, " They can not go back," 
jjine 12, etc.,' and believe it is true of you. Being absorbed 
^ ^ * in divine things will not make you selfish ; you will 
be astonished to find how loving you will gradually grow 
toward everybody, how^ interested in their interests, how liappy 
in their happiness. And if you want work for Christ (and the 
more you love Him the more you will hn(:^ for it), that work will 
come to you in all sorts of ways. I do not believe much in 
duty-work ; I think that work that tells is the spontaneous ex- 
pression of the love within. Perhaps you have not been sick 
enc'jgh yourself to be skilful in a sick-room; perhaps your 
time for that sort of work hasn't come. I meant to get you a 
little book called "The Life of Faith"; in fact. I went down 

' From the " Tower of the Ciuss of Christ." 



37^ THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

town on purpose to get it, and passed the Episcopal Sunday- 
school Union inadvertently. I think that little book teaches 
how everything we do may be done for Christ, and I know by 
what little experience I have had of it, that it is a blessed, 
thrice blessed way to live. A great deal is meant by the "cup 
of cold water," and few of us women have great deeds to per- 
form, and we must unite ourselves to Him by little ones. The 
life of constant self-discipline God requires is a happy one ; 
you and I, and others like us, find a wild, absorbing joy in lov- 
ing and being loved ; but sweet, abiding peace is the fruit of 
steady check on affections that m7is^ be tamed and kept under. 
Is this consistent with what I have just said about growing more 
loving as we grow more Christlike ? Yes, it is ; for f/ia^ love is 
absolutely unselfish, it gives much and asks nothing, and there 
is nothing restless about it. ... I have been very hard at work 
ever since I came here, with my darling M. as my constant, joy- 
ous com.rade. We have been busy with our flower-beds, sowing 
and transplanting, and half the china closet has tumbled out of 
doors to serve as protection from the sun. Mr. Prentiss says 
we do the work of three days in one, which is true, for we cer- 
tainly have performed great feats. The night we got here we 
found the house lighted up, and the dining-table covered with 
good things. People seem glad to see us back. I don't know 
which of my Dorset titles would strike you as most appropriate ; 
one man calls me a "branch," another "a child of nature," and 
another " Mr. Prentiss' woman," with the consoling reflection 
that I sha'n't rust out. 

I don't know when I have written so few letters as I have 

this summer. My right hand has forgot its cunning 

!s;«1S!" ^i^der the paralysis, under which my heart has suf- 

porset fered, and which is now beofinnins: to affect mv health 

1871. quite unfavorably. It seems as if body and soul, joints 

and marrow, were rudely separating. Poor George is 

half-distracted with the weight of the questions concerning 

Ciiicago, and I think almost anything would be better than 

this crucifying suspense. But I try not to make a fuss. Mrs. 

r> can tell you that I have said to her many times, during 

the last few years, that, according to the ordinary run of life, 
things would not long remain with us as they were ; they were 
too good to last. 



THE TRIAL OF I AITII. 377 

I have read and re-read "Spiritual Dislodgmcnts," and 
remember it well. I certainly wish for such dislodgments in 
me and mine, if we need them. George has got hold of i\ 
book of A.'s, which delights him, Letters of WilHam Von Hum- 
boldt' I suppose you recommended it to her. You mi/si 
make your plans to come here this summer; I don't seem fully 
to have a thing till you've seen it. 

It took you a good while to answer my last letter, and I 
j.^ ^^^.^ have been equally lazy about writing since yours 
Humphrey, strayed this way. Letter-writing^ has always been a 
Aug. 8,' resource and a pastime to me ; a refuge in head-achy 
^^^^' and rainy days, and a tiny way to give pleasure or do 
good, when other paths were hedged up. But this summer I 
have left almost everybody in the lurch, partly from being 
more or less unwell and out of spirits, partly because the 
Chicago question, remaining unsettled, has been such a damper 
that I hadn't much heart to speak either of it or of anything 
else. We are perplexed beyond measure what to do ; tiic 
thought of losing my viinister and having him turn into a 
professor, agonizes me; on the other hand, who knows but he 
needs the rest that change of labor and the five months' 
vacation would give him ? His chief worry is the effect the 
attending funerals all the time has already had on my health. 
One day I part with and bury (in imagination !) now this 
friend, now that, and this mournful work does not sharpen 
one's appetite or invigorate one's frame. I don't know how 
we've stood the conflict; and it seems rather selfish to allude 
to my part of it; but women live more in their friendships 
than men do, and the thought of tearing up all our roots is 
more painful to me than to my husband, and he will not lose 
what I must lose in addition, and as I have said before, my 
minister, which is the hardest part of it. 

I want you to know what straits we arc in, in the hope 
that you and yours will be stirred up to jiray that we may 
make no mistake, but go or stay as the Lord would have us. 
We have found our little home a nice refuge for us in llie 
storm ; Mr. P. says he should have gone distracted in a 
boarding-house. I do not envy you the Conway crowd. Hut 

» <' Briufc ail cine rrcundiii,"'a remarkable little bouk, full of light and swcctntss. 



578 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

I fancy it is a good region for collecting mosses and like 
treasures. I think the prettiest thing in our house is a fiattish 
bracket, fastened to the wall and filled Avith flowers > it looks 
like a graceful, meandering letter S and is one of the idols I bow 

down to I have "Holiness through Faith"; the first 

time I read it at Mr. R 's request, I said I believed e\ ery 

word of it, but this summer, reading it in a different mood, it 
puzzles me. The idea is plausible ; if God tells us to be holy, 
as He certainly does, is it not for Him to provide the way for 
our being so, and is it likely He needs our whole lives before 
He can accomplish His own design ? I talked with Mr. Pren- 
tiss about itj and at first he rejected the thought of holiness 
through faith, but last night we got upon the subject again and 
he was interested in some sentences I read to him and said he 
must examine the book. When are you coming to spend that 
week in Dorset ? Love to each and all. 

I have had many letters to write to-da}^, for to-day our fate 
is sealed, and we are to go. But I must say a few 
you7ig words to you before going to bed, for I want to tell 
Kaidn/eis Y^^ ^^^ Very glad I am that you have been enabled 
Sept. 9, to take a step^ which will, I am sure, lead the way 
to other steps, increase your holiness, your useful- 
ness, and your happiness. May God bless you in this at- 
tempt to honor Him, and open out before you new fields 
wherein to glorify and please Him. This has not been a 
sorrowful day to me. I hope I am offering to a " patient God 
a patient heart." I do not want to make the worst of the sac- 
rifice He requires, or to fancy I am only to be happy on my 
own conditions. He has been most of the time for years " the 
spring of all my joys, the life of my delights." Where He is, I 
want to be ; where He bids me go, I want to go, and to go in 
courage and faith. Anything is better than too strong cleav- 
ing to this world. As I was situated in New York, I lacked 
not a single earthly blessing. I had a delightful home, free- 
dom from care, and a circle of friends whom I loved with all 
my heart, and who loved me in a way to satisfy even my ra- 
pacity. Only one thing was wanting to my perfect felicity — a 
heart absolutely holy ; and was I likely to get that when my 
^ Praying before others. 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 



379 



earthly cup was so full ? At any rate I am content. \o\v and 
then, as the reality of this coming separation overwhelms me, 
I feel a spasm of pain at my heart (I don't suppose we are ex- 
pected to cease to be human beings or to lose our sensibilities) 
but if my Lord and Master will go with me, and keeps on mak- 
ing me more and more like Himself, I can be happy anywhere 
and under any conditions, or be made content not to be happy. 
All this is of little consequence in itself, but perhaps it may 
make me more of a blessing to others, which, next to personal 
holiness, is the only thing to be sought very earnestly. As to 
my relation to you. He who brought you under my wing for a 
season has something better for you in store. Thafs His way. 
And wherever I am, if it is His will and His Spirit dictates the 
prayer, I shall pray for you, and that is the best service one 
soul can render another. 

About this time she and her husband had an almost mirac- 
ulous escape from instant death. They had been calling upon 
friends in East Dorset and were returning home. Not far 
from that village is a very dangerous railroad crossing; and, 
as the sight or sound of cars so affrighted Coco as to render 
him uncontrollable, special pains had been taken not to arriv-e 
at the spot while a train was due. But just as they reached 
it, an "irregular" train, whose approach was masked behind 
high bushes, came rushing along unannounced, and had they 
been only a few seconds later, would have crushed them to 
atoms. So severe was the shock and so vivid the sense of a 
Providential escape, that scarcely a word was spoken during 
the drive home. The next morning she gave her husband a 
very interesting account of the thoughts that, like lightning, 
flashed upon her mind while feeling herself in the jaws of 
death. They related exclusively to her children— how they 
would receive the news, and what would become of them.' 

» Since the warning we had the other dny that we may be snatched from our cliildrru, 
ought we not to try to form some plan for them in case of such an emergency ? I cant 
account for it, that in those fearful moments I thought only of tlicm. I shouM linve sad 
1 ought to have had some thought of the world we seemed to be hurrying to. I supptx 
tlierc was the instinctive yet blind sense that the preparation for the next life had be< o 
made for us by the Lord, and that, as far as that life was concerned, wc had nolhintj aO 
do but to enter it. I shudder when I think what a desolate lionie this might be lo-da/. 
Poor things ! they've got everytliing before them, without one experience and disdpline V - 
From a letter to her husband, dated Dorset, Hept. 17, 1S71. 



38o THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

Late in September she returned to town, still oppressed 
by the thought of going to Chicago. In a letter to Mrs. Con- 
diet, dated October 2d, she writes : 

We got home on Friday night, and very early on Saturday 
were settled down into the old routine. But how different ev- 
erything is ! At church tearful, clouded faces ; at home, warm- 
hearted friends looking upon us as for the last time. It is all 
right. I would not venture to change it if I could ; but it is 
hard. At times it seems as if my heart would literally break 
to pieces, but we are mercifully kept from realising our sor- 
rows all the time. The waves dash in and almost overwhelm, 
but then they sweep back and are stayed by an almighty, kind 

hand It is like tearing off a limb to leave our dear 

prayer-meeting. Next to my closet, it has been to me the 
sweetest spot on earth. I never expect to find such another. 

To another friend she writes a day or two later : 

My heart fairly collapses at times, at the thought of tearing 
myself away from those whom Christian ties have made dearer 
to me than my kindred after the flesh. And then comes the 
precious privilege and relief of telling my yet dearer and better 
Friend all about it, and the sweet peace begotten of yielding 
my will to His. I want to be of all the use and comfort to you 
and to the other dear ones He will let me be during these few 
months. Do pray for me that I may so live Christ as to bear 
others along with me on a resistless tide. Those lines you 
copied for me are a great comfort : 

" Rather walking with Him by faith, 
Than walking alone in the light." 

Of the little praying circle, alluded to in her letter to Mrs. 
C, one of its members writes : 

It was unique even among meetings of its own class. Held in an upper 
chamber, never largely attended and sometimes only by the " two or three," 
it was almost unknown except to the few, who regarded it as among their 
chicfest religious privileges. All the other members would gladly have had 
Mrs. Prentiss assume its entire leadership ; but she assumed nothing and was 
no doubt quite unconscious as to how large an extent she was the life and 
soul of the meetino^. In the familiar conversation of the hour nothing: fell 



THE TRIAL OF FAITlf. 381 

from her lips but such sim]ilG words as, comiiij^ from a ^lowin;:; hcnrt. 
streng-thened and deepened the spiritual life of all who heard ihcm. She 
had, in a degree I never knew equalled, the gift of leading the devotions ot 
others. But there was not the slightest approach to performance in her 
prayers ; she abhorred the very thought of it. Those who knelt with hei 
can never forget the pure devotion which breathed itself forth in simple 
exquisite language ; but it was something beyond the power of description. 

Another member of the circle writes : 

Her prayers were so simple, so earnest, so childlike. We all felt we 
were in the very presence of our loving Father. One thing especially al- 
ways impressed me during that sacred hour — it was her quietness of 
manner. She was very cordial and affectionate in her greetings with each 
one, as we assembled, and then a holy awe, a solemn hush, came over her 
spirit and she seemed like one who saw the Lord ! O how we all miss her ! 
There is never a meeting but we keep her in remembrance and talk to- 
gether lovingly about her. 

Mr. Prentiss sent in his resignation last evening, and the 
church refused unanimously to let him go. "Praise 
j^tnd, Go<^ iroxTi whom all blessings flow" penetrated the 
Oct. 21, avails of the parsonage, as they sang it when the de 
cision was made, and so we knew our fate before a 
whole parlorful rushed in to shake hands, kiss, and con- 
gratulate. You would have been delighted had you been 
here. Prof. Smith, who took strong ground in favor of his 
going, takes just as strong ground in favor of his staying. I 
feel that all this is the result of prayer. I never got any light 
on the Chicago question when I prayed about it ; never could see 
that it was our duty to go ; but I yielded my judgment and my 
will, because my husband thought that he must go. I think our 
very reluctance to it made us shrink from evading it ; we were so 
afraid of opposing God's will. Now the matter is taken out of 
our hands and we have only to resume our work here. God 
grant that this baptism of fire may purge and purify us and 
prepare us to be a great blessing to the church. It is a most 
awe-inspiring providence, God's burning us out of Chicago, 
and we feel like putting our shoes from off our feet and ador- 
ing Him in silence Pray that the lessons we have been 

learning through so many trying months may help us to be 
helping hands to those who may pass through similar straits. 
One of my brothers was burnt out, and his own and his wife'l 



382 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

letters drew tears even down to the kitchen. For two days and 
a night they lost their baby, five months old, in addition to all 
the other horrors. But they found refuge with a dear cousin, 
who has filled his house to overflowing. I may have spoken of 
this cousin to you : he has a foundling home on Mliller's trust 
system. 

Before taking leave of the call to Chicago a word should be 
added to what she says concerning it in her letters. The pros- 
pect of her husband's accepting the call rendered the summer 
a very trying one ; but it was far from being all gloom. She 
had a marvellous power of extracting amusement out of the 
most untoward situation. In 1843 she wrote from Richmond, 
referring to Mr. Persico's troubles : " I never spent such melan- 
choly weeks in my life ; in the midst of it, however, I made fun 
for the rest, as I believe I should do in a dungeon." It was so 
in the present case. She relieved the weariness of many an 
anxious hour by '' making fun for the rest.'* As an illustra- 
tion, one evening at Dorset, while sitting at the parlor-table 
with her children and a young friend who was visiting her, 
she seized a pencil and wrote for their entertainment a ludi- 
crous version of the Chicago affair in two parts. • The paper 
which was preserved by her young friend, illustrates also an- 
other trait which she thus describes at the close of a frolic- 
some letter to Miss E. A. Warner: " It is one of the peculiar 
peculiarities of this woman that she usually carries on, when 
she wants to hide her feelins." Part I. begins thus : 

Where are the Prentisses? Gone to Chicago, 
Gone bag and baggage, the whole crew and cargo. 
Well, they would go, now let's talk 'em over, 
And see what compensation we can discover. 

They are all "talked over" and then in Part II. the scene 
changes to Chicago itself : 

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of r^-e, 
Here's the tribe of Prentisses just agoing by ; 

Dr. Prentiss he, 

Mrs. Prentiss she. 
And a lot of young ones that all begin with P. 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 383 

Well, let us view them with our eyes, 

And then begin to criticise. 

And first the doctor, what of him ? 

The doctor having been fully discussed, the criticism pro 
ceeds : 

Now for his wife ; well, who would guess 

She had set up as authoress ! 

Why, she looks just like all of us, 

Instead of being in a muss 

Like other literary folks. 

They say she likes her little jokes, 

As well as those who've less to say 

Of stepping on the heavenward way. 

Mrs. P. having been disposed of: 

Next comes Miss P. ; how she will make 
The hearts of all the students quake ! 
She'll wind them round her fingers' ends, 
And find in them one hundred friends. 
They'll sit on benches in a row 
And watch her come, and watch her go ; 
But they'll be safe, the precious rogues, 
Since she don't care for theologues. 

The other children next pasy in review and the whole 
closes with the remark : 

Time, and Time only, will make clear 
Why the poor geese came cackling here. 

My heart is as young and fresh as any girl's, and I am al- 
most as prone to make idols out of those I love, as I 
^'^^^^^^^''^ ever was ; and this is inconsistent with the devotion 
Netu York, owed to God. I do not mean that I really love any- 
;\^z;., 1S71. ^^^^^ better than I do Him, but that human fricnd- 
siiips tempt me. This easily-besetting sin of mine has cost me 
more anguish than tongue can tell, and I deeply feel the need 
of more love to Christ because of my earthly tendencies. 
I know I would sacrifice every friend to Christ, but I am net 
always disentangled. How^ strange this is, how passing strange ! 
.... In a religious way I find myself much better off here 
thau ut Dorset. But there is yet something apparently " far 



384 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

off, unattained and dim " that I once thought I had caught b> 
the wing, and enjoyed for a season, but which has flown away 
I am afraid I am one who has got to be a religious enthusiasf; 
01 else dissatisfied and restless. When I give way to an im- 
pulse to the first, I care for nothing worldly, and am at peace. 
But 1 am unfitted for daily life, for secular talk and reading. 
Is it so with you ? Does it run in our blood ? I do long and 
pray for more light ; and I will pray for more love, cost what it 
may. Sometimes I long to get to heaven, where I shall not 
have to be curbing my heart with bit and bridle, and can be as 
loving as I want to be — as I am. 

There never will come a time in my life when I shall not 

To a young "^^^^ ^^1 "^7 Christian friends can do for me in the 

Friend way of prayer. I am elad vou are making such 

abroad — . - „ o ., o 

New York, Special effort to oppose the icebergs of foreign life ; 
ec. ,1 71- Qq(J ^\\\ meet and bless you in it. Let us, if need 
be, forsake all others to cleave only unto Him. I don't knov/ 
ol any real misery except coldness between myself and Him. 

I feel warm and tender sympathy with you in all your 
struggles, temptations, joys, hopes and fears. As you grow 
older you will settle more ; your troubles, your ups and downs, 
belong chiefly to your youth. Yes, you are right in saying 

that Mr. P could go through mental conflicts in silence ; 

he does not pine for sympathy as you and I do. You and I 
are like David, though I forget, at the moment, what he said 
happened to him when he " kept silence." (On the whole, I 
don't think he said anything ! ) 

I think the proper attitude to take when restless and lone- 
some and homesick for want of God's sensible presence, is just 
what we take when we are missing earthly friends for whom 
we yearn, and whose letters, though better than nothing, do not 
half feed our hungry hearts, or fill our longing arms. And 
that attitude is patient waiting. We are such many-sided creat- 
ures tliat I do not doubt you are getting pleasure and profit 
out of this European trip, although it is alloyed by so much 
mental suffering. But such is life. It has in it nothing per- 
fect, nothing ideal. And this conviction, deepened every now 
and then by some new experience, tosses me anew, again and 
again, back on to that Rock of Ages that ever stands sure and 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 385 

Steadfast, and on whom our feet may rest. It is well to have 
the waves and billows of temptation beat upon us ; if only to 
magnify this Rock and teach us what a refuge He is. 

I went, last night, with ]\Ir. Prentiss and most of the chil- 
dren, to hear the freedmen and women in a concert at Stein- 
way Hall. It was packed with a brilliant, delighted audience, 
and it was most interesting to see these young people, simple, 
dignified, earnest, full of love to Christ, and preparing, by edu- 
cation, to work for Him. They sang "Keep me from sinking 
down " most sweetly and touchingiy. I see you have the blues 
as I used to do, at your age, and hope you will outgrow them 
as I have done. I suffer without being depressed in the sense in 
which I used to be ; it is hard to make the distinction, but I 
am sure there is one. I do not know how far this change has 
come to mc as a happy wife and mother, or how far it is re- 
ligious. 

Aunt Jane's Hero was published in 1S71. It is hardly in- 
ferior to Stepping Heavenward in its pictures of life and charac- 
ter, or in the wisdom of its teaching. The object of the book 
is to depict a home whose happiness flows from the living 
Rock, Christ Jesus. It protests also against the extravagance 
and other evils of the times, which tend to check the growtii 
of such homes, and aims to show that there are still treasures 
of love and peace on earth, that may be bought without money 
and without price. 



III. 

"Holiness and Usefulness go hand-in-hand." No two Souls dealt with exactly alike 
Visits to a stricken Home. Anoiher Side of her Life. Visit to a Hospital. Chris. 
tian Friendship. Letters to a bereaved Mother. Submission not inconsistent with 
Sufferinp. Thoufjhts at the Funeral of a little "Wee Davie." Assurance of Faith. 
Funeral of Prof. Hopkins. His Character. 

She entered the new year with wcar)^ steps, but with a 
heart full of tenderness and s\'mpat!iy. A circle of young 
friends, living in different parts of the conntrx-. looked eagerly 
to her at this time for counsel, and she was deeply interested 



386 THE IJFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

in their spiritual progress She wrote to one of them, January 

Your letter has filled my heart with joy. What a Friend 
and Saviour we have, and how He comes tc meet us on the 
sea, If we attempt to walk there in faith ! 1 trust your path 
now will be the ever brightening one that shall shine more and 
more unto the perfect day. Holiness and usefulness go hand 
m hand, and you will have new work to do for the Lord • pray- 
ing work especially. I^ raj for me, for one thing ; I need a great 
deal of grace and strength just now. And pray for all the 
souls that are struggling toward the light. O that everybody 
hved only for Christ ! 



• 



A few weeks later, writing to the same friend, she thu.s 
refers to the "fiery trials " through which she was passing: 

This season of temptation came right on the heels, if I may 
use such an expression, of great spiritual illumination. Of all 
the years of my life, 1869-70 was the brightest, and it seems as 
If Satan could not endure the sight of so much love and joy 
and so took me in hand. I have not liked to say much about 
this to young people, lest it should discourage them ; but I hope 
you will not allow it to affect you in that way, for you must re- 
member that no two souls are dealt with exactly alike, and that 
the fact that many are looking up to me may have made it 
necessary for our dear Lord to let Satan harass and trouble me 
as he has done. No, let us not be discouraged, either you or I 
but rejoice that we are called of our God and Saviour to give 

H,m all we have and all we are If we spent more time 

in thanking God for what He has done for us, He would do 
more. 

Malignant scarlet fever and other diseases, had invaded 
and isolated the household mentioned in the following letter 
Their gratitude to Mrs. Prentiss wa^. most touching; it was as 
If she had been to them an angel from heaven. The story of 
her visits and loving sympathy became a part of their family 
history. 

1 came home half frozen from my early walk this morning, 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 3<?; 

To Mrs. to get warm not only at the fire, but at your letter 
N^e^^Vork' which I foiind awaiting me. I am glad if you got 

yaft. 26, anvthino- out of your visit here. I rather think v< ni 
and I shall " rattle on " together after we get t<} 

heaven You say, "How skilfully God does fashion cpt 

crosses for us ! " Yes, He does. And for my part, I don't 
want to rest and be happy without crosses — for I can't do with- 
out them. People who set themselves up to be pastors and 
teachers must "learn in suffering" what they teach in sermon 
and book. I felt a good deal reproved for making so much of 
mine, however, by my further visits to the house of mourning 
of which we spoke to you. The little boy died early on the 
next day, and before his funeral his poor mother, neglected by 
everybody else, found it some comfort to get into my arms and 
cry there. It made no difference that twenty years had passed 
since I had had a sorrow akin to hers ; we mothers may cease 
to grieve, outwardly, but we never forget what has gone out of 
our sight, or ever grow unsympathetic because time has soothed 
and quieted us. But I need not say this to you. This was on 
Saturday ; all day Monday I was there watching a most lovely 
little girl, about six years old, writhing in agony ; she died 
early next morning. The next eldest has been in a critical 
state, but will probably recover a certain degree of health. l)ut 
as a helpless cripple. Well, I felt that death alone was i/icwor- 
ahle — other enemies we may hope and pray and fight against — 
and that while my children lived, I need not despair. The tax 
on my sympathies in the case of those half-distracted parents 
has been terrible, and yet I wouldn't accept a cold heart if I 
had the offer of it. 

To give you another side of my life, let me tell you of a 
pleasant dinner party one night last week, wlicn we met Gov. 

and Mrs. C , of Massachusetts, and I fell in love with her 

then and there Well, this is a queer world, full of (]uecr 

things and queer people. Will the next one be more common- 
place ? I know not. Good-bye. 

Word has come from that afllicted household tliat the 
grandfather has died suddenly of iieart disease. His wife 
died a few weeks ago. Mr. Pientiss saw him on Saturday in 
vigorous health. 



388 THE LIFE OF MRS. TRENTISS. 

Can you tell me where the blotting-pads can be obtained ? 

To Miss I have got into a hospital of spines; in other words, of 

Morse, people who can only write lying on their backs, one 

^Ma?xh^K' ^^ them an authoress, and I think it would be a mercy 

1872. to them if I could furnish them with the means of 
writing with more ease than they do now. I was sorry you 
could not come last Friday, and hope you will be able to join 

us Saturday, when the club meets here How you would 

have enjoyed yesterday afternoon with me ! I went to call on 
a lady from Vermont, who is here for spinal treatment, and 
found in her room another of the patients. Two such bright 
creatures I never met at once, and we got a-going at such a 
rate that though I had never seen either of them before, I 
stayed nearly three hours ! I mean to have another dose of 
them before long, and give them another dose of E. P. I have 
been reading a book called " The Presence of Christ " ^ — which 
I liked so well that 1 got a copy to lend. It is not a great 
book, but I think it will be a useful one. It says we are all 
idolaters, and reminds me of my besetting sins in that direction. 
I feel overwhelmed when I think how many young people are 
looking to me for light and help, knowing how much I need 

both myself Every now and then some Providential 

event occurs that wakes us up, and we find that we have been 
asleep and dreaming, and that what we have been doing that 
made us fancy ourselves awake, was mechanical. 

I must be off now to my sewing society, which is a great 
farce, since I can earn thirty or forty times as much with my 
pen as I can with my needle, and if they would let me stay at 
home and write, I would give them the results of my morning's 
work. But the minute I stop going everybody else stops. 

How I should love to spend this evening with you ! This 

To Mrs. has been our Communion Sunday, and I am sure the 

ApHi%' service would have been very soothing to your poor, 

1^72. sore heart. And yet why do I say poor when I know 

it is I'ich? Oh, you might have the same sorrow without faith 

and patience with which to bear it, and think how dread! ul 

that would be ! Your little lamb has been spending his first 

1 The Presence of Christ. Lectures on the XXIIL Psalm. By Anthony W. ThorolcJ, 
Lord Bishop of Rochester. A. D. F. Randolph & Co. 



THE TRIAL OF FAITIT. 389 

Sunday with the Good Shepherd and other lambs of the flock, 
and has been as happy as the day is long. Perhaps your two 
children and mine are claiming kinship together. If they met 
in a foreign land they would surely claim it for our sakes ; wliy 
not in the land that is not foreign, and not far off? Hut still 
these are not the thoughts to bring you special comfort. "Tliv 
will be done !" does the whole. And yet my heart aclies for 
you. Some one, who had never had a real soirow, told Mrs. N. 
that if she submitted to God's will as she ought, she would 
Lease to suffer. What a fallacy this is ! Mrs N. was com- 
forted by hearing that your little one was taken away by the 
consequences of the fever, as her Nettie was, for she had 
reproached herself with havinpc neglected her to see to Johnny 
who died first, and thought this neglect had allowed her to 
take cold. I feel very sorry when mothers torture themselves 
in this needless way, as if God could not avert ill consecpiences. 
if He chose. 

I have shed more than one tear to-day. I heard last night 
that my dearly-loved brother, Prof. Hopkins, is on his dying- 
bed. I never thought of his dying, he comes of such a long- 
lived race. I expect to go to see him, and if I find I can be of 
any use or comfort, stay a week or two. His death will come 
very near to me, but he is a saintly man, and I am glad for 
him that he can go. How thankful we shall be when our turn 
comes ! The ladies at our little meeting were deeply interested 
in what I had to tell them about your dear boy, and prayed for 
you with much feeling. May our dear Lord bless you abun- 
dantly with His sweet presence ! I know He will. And yet He 
})as willed it that you should suffer. "Himself hath done it ! " 
Oh how glad He will be when the disjicnsation of suffering is 
over, and He can gather His beloved round Him, tearless, free 
from sorrow and care, and all forever at rest. 

May ^f/i. — Yesterday, the friend at East Dorset whose tin re 
children died within a few weeks of each cUlier sent 're sonn* 
Vciscs of which I copy one for you : 

" The eye of faith beholds 

A golden stair, like that of old, whereon 
Fair spirits go and come ; 
God's angels coming down on errands sweet, 
Our angels going home." 



390 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

I hope this golden stair, up which your dear boy climbed 
"with shout and song," is covered with God's angels coming 
down to bless and comfort you. One of the most touching pas- 
sages in the Bible, to my mind, is that which describes angels 
as coming to minister to Jesus after His temptations in the wil- 
derness. It gives one such an idea of His helplessness ! Just as 
I was gomg out to church this morning, Mr. Prentiss told me 
of the death of a charming ''baby-boy," one of our lambs, and 
I could scarcely help bursting into tears, though I had only 
seen him once. You can hardly understand how I feel, as a 
pastor's wife, toward our people. Their sorrows come right 
home. I have a friend also hanging in agonizing suspense over 
a little one who has been injured by a fall ; she is sweetly sub- 
missive, but you know what a mother's heart is. I have yet 
another friend, who has had to give up her baby. She is a 
young mother, and far from her family, but says she has " per- 
fect peace." So from all sides I hear sorrowful sounds, but so 
much faith and obedience mingled with the sighs, that I can 
only wonder at what God can do. 

How true and how strange it is that our deepest sorrows 

^^ spring from our sweetest affections ; that as we love 

Miss Morse, much, we Suffer much. What instruments of torture 

May 7, 1S72. - , _,, . i, 

our hearts are ! The passage you quote is all true, 
but people are apt to be impatient in affliction, eager to drink 
the bitter cup at a draught rather than drop by drop, and fain to 
dig up the seed as soon as it is planted, to see if it has germi- 
nated. I am fond of quoting that passage about " the peace- 
able fruit of righteousness " coming " afterward." 

I have just come from the funeral of a little "Wee Davie "; 
all the crosses around his coffin were tiny ones, and he had a 
small floral harp in his hand, I thought as I looked upon his 
face, still beautiful, though worn, that even babies have to be 
introduced to the cross, for he had a week of fearful struggle 

before he was released I enclose an extract I made for 

you from a work on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was 
all the paper I had at hand at the moment. The recipe for 
"curry" I have copied into my recipe-book, and the two lines 
at the top of the page I addressed to M. A queer mixture of 
the spiritual and the practical, but no stranger than life's mix- 
ture's always are. 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 39 1 

As to assurance of faith, I think we may all have that, and ir. 

my own darkest hours this faith has not been dis- 
To a 
yoimg turbed. I have just come home from a brief visit to 

%C!v^York ^^^ss ' with whom I had some interesting disc js- 

Mavzotli, sions. I use the word discussions advisedly, for wo 
1S72. -^ 

love each other in constant disagreement. She be- 
lieves in holiness by faith, while denying that she has herself 
attained it. I think her life, as far as I can see it, very true and 
beautiful. We spent a whole evening talking about temptation. 
Not long ago I met wdth a passage, in French, to this effect — I 
quote from memory only : "God has some souls whom He can 
not afflict in any ordinary way, for they love Flim so that they 
are ready for any outward sorrow or bereavement. He there- 
fore scourges them with inward trials, vastly more painful 
than any outward tribulation could be ; thus crucifying them 
to self." I can not but think that this explains Mrs. 's ex- 
perience, and perhaps my own ; at any rate I feel that we arc 
all in the hands of an unerring Physician, who will bring us, 
through varying paths, home to Himself. 

I had a call the other day from an intelligent Christian 
woman, w^hom I had not seen for eighteen years. She said that 
some time ago her attention was called to the subject of per- 
sonal holiness, and as she is a great reader, she devoured every- 
thing she could get hold of, and finally became a dogmatic 
perfectionist. But experience modified these views, and she 
fell back on the Bible doctrine of an indwelling Christ, with 
the conviction that just in proportion to this indwelling will l)e 
the holiness of the soul. This is precisely my own belief. This 
is the doctrine I preached in Stepping Heavenward and I have 
so far seen nothing to change these views, while I desire and 
pray to be taught any other truth if I am wrong. I believe 
God does reveal Himself and His truth to those who are w ill- 
ing to know it. 

I got home yesterday from Wil iamstown, where I went, 

jP^ with my husband, to attend the funeral of my dearly 

\ftss Morse, beloved brother, Profcsscr Hopkins. He literally 

'if ay 2^,' starved to death. He died as he had lived, beauti- 

^^''^' fully, thinking of and sending messages to all his 



392 THE LIFE OF MRS. PRENTISS. 

friends, and on his last day repeating passages of Scripture 
and even, weak as he was, joining in hymns sung at his bedside. 
The day of the funeral was a pretty trying one for me, as there 
was not only his loss to mourn, but there were traces of my dar 
ling mother and sister, who both died in that house, all over it ; 
some of my mother's silver, a white quilt she made when a girl, 
my sister's library, her collection of shells and minerals, her 
paintings, her little conservatory, the portrait of her only child, 
dressed in his uniform (he was killed in one of the battles of 
the Wilderness). Then, owing to the rain, none of us ladies 
were allowed to go into the cemetery, and I had thought much 
of visiting my sister's grave and seeing her boy lying on one 
side and her husband on the other. But our disappointments 
are as carefully planned for us as our sorrows, so I have not a 
word to say. 

After services at the house, we w^alked to the church, which 
we entered through a double iile of uncovered students. One 
of the most touching things about the service was the sight of 
four students standing in charge of the remains, two at the 
head and two at the foot of the coffin. His poor folks came in 
crowds, w^ith their hands full of flowers to be cast into his grave. 
My brother said he never saw so many men shed tears at a 
funeral, and I am sure I never did ; some sobbing as convul- 
sively as womeru I could not help asking myself when my heart 
was swelling so with pain, v/hether love paid. Love is sweet 
when all goes well, but oh how fearfully exacting it is when 
separation comes ! How many tithes it takes of all we have 
and are ! 

A worthy young woman in our church has been driven into 
hysterics by reading "Holiness through Faith." I went to see 
her as soon as I got home from W. yesterday, but she was 
asleep under the influence of an opiate. There is no doubt 
that too much self-scrutiny is pernicious, especially to weak- 
minded, ignorant young people. It was said of Prof. Hopkins 
that he would have been a mystic but for his love to souls, and 
I am afraid these new doctrines tend too much to the seek- 
ing for peace and joy, too little to seeking the salvation of the 
careless and worldly. But I hesitate to criticise any class of 
good people, feeling that those who live in most habitual com- 



THE TRIAL OF FAITH. 



393 



munion with God receive light directly and constantly from on 
high ; and of thart communion we can not seek too much/ 

' Albert Hopkins was bom in Stockbrid^e, Mass., July 14, 1S07. He was j^raduatecl at 
Williams College in the class of 1826, and three years later became Professor of Mathe- 
matics and Natural Philosophy in the same institution. Astronomy was afterward added 
to his chair. In 1834 he went abroad. In the summer of 1835 he organised and con- 
ducted a Natural History expedition to Nova Scotia, the first expedition of the kind in 
this country. Two years later he built at his own expense, and in part by the labor of 
his own hands, the astronomical observatory at Williamstown. In this also, it is said, in 
advance of a